Drezner’s World Is Going to the Balkans!

Drezner’s World Is Going to the Balkans!

By Daniel Drezner, Professor of International Politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy

The hard-working staff here at Drezner’s world has been travelling a lot in the past six weeks. That’s going to continue for the rest of this month! For the next week I will be traveling as part of my day-job duties as co-director of the Fletcher School’s Russia and Eurasia Program. Longtime readers might recall that last year I traveled to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, where I was able to evaluate a close competition for Best Regional Hagiographic Museum

This time around, the destination is the Western Balkans — i.e., some of the states that used to comprise former Yugoslavia. Fletcher students will be sojourning to Serbia, Kosovo, and North Macedonia as part of a fact-finding trip to see whether and how Russia, the European Union, and the United States are attempting to exercise soft power in the region. 

Russia poses an especially interesting case. Russia’s approach to Southeastern Europe is complex and multifaceted, rooted in historical, religious, and cultural connections, particularly with countries like Serbia. Russia has positioned itself as a key player, often acting as a counterbalance to Western influence. Moscow has multiple levers of influence in the region, including cultural and political ties, the Orthodox Church, energy dependence, and business links. Furthermore, Russian media outlets in the region have promoted narratives favorable to the Kremlin’s interests, which may or may not be shaping local public opinion. Needless to say, the Russo-Ukrainian war has complicated Russia’s role in the Western Balkans and raised questions about the future of Russia’s influence in the region. 

Posting on Drezner’s World will probably be light over the next week, unless: A) I think of something I want to write about; and B) I have the time to write it up. I usually do not have a problem with the first condition. On these trips, the second condition is sometimes difficult to meet. 


(This post is republished from Drezner’s World.)

Leave a Reply