Fibre optic data containing a computer virus on a laptop screen; cyber attack; anonymous
A military counter-disinformation expert and a civilian strategic defence adviser will train the Bosnia and Herzegovinian Armed Forces (Picture: Science Photo Library/Alamy Stock Photo).
NATO

UK military experts deployed to Bosnia and Herzegovina to counter Russian influence

Boris Johnson said the Western Balkans cannot be allowed to "become another playground for Putin's pernicious pursuits".

Fibre optic data containing a computer virus on a laptop screen; cyber attack; anonymous
A military counter-disinformation expert and a civilian strategic defence adviser will train the Bosnia and Herzegovinian Armed Forces (Picture: Science Photo Library/Alamy Stock Photo).

UK military specialists will be sent to Bosnia and Herzegovina to reinforce NATO's forces in the country, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced.

The Government said Bosnia and Herzegovina is currently facing the largest threat in its post-war period, with certain leaders working to create further division and conflict in the country.

These secessionist plans are backed by Moscow, forming part of Vladimir Putin's plans to undermine Bosnia's stability and Euro-Atlantic integration,  the Government said.

At the request of NATO Headquarters Sarajevo, a British military counter-disinformation expert and a civilian strategic defence adviser will train the Bosnia and Herzegovinian armed forces.

The counter-disinformation expert will look to bolster both NATO HQ and the country's ability to fight back against negative influence, while the strategic defence adviser will help reform defence in the country. 

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Boris Johnson said the Western Balkans cannot be allowed to "become another playground for Putin's pernicious pursuits".

"By fanning the flames of secessionism and sectarianism, Russia seeks to reverse the gains of the last three decades in Bosnia and Herzegovina, gains that have brought more stability to our whole continent," he said.

"That is why we are stepping up support to Bosnia and Herzegovina, answering the call from our friends to help protect the peace they so rightfully deserve to enjoy."

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) is working with its Bosnian counterpart to develop the Bosnian armed forces to deal with the challenges they face.

The UK has a long-standing commitment to peace in the region, starting in the 1990s when British soldiers assisted humanitarian efforts in the Bosnian War – with UK forces serving in the country ever since.

The UK will also provide £750,000 to help create a cyber-security centre within the University of Sarajevo and work closely with Bosnian media outlets and Bosnian institutions to tackle disinformation.