“The purchase of thousands of new guns by the Bosnian Serb police has raised concerns over the intentions of the separatist-led regional government and deepening Russian influence in a divided and economically depressed nation.

A shipment of 2,500 automatic rifles from Serbia is due to arrive in the Serb-run half of Bosnia in March, weeks before the scheduled opening of a new training centre where Russian advisers have been expected to play a role under an agreement signed more than two years ago.

The Bosnian Serb authorities have defended the arms purchase as necessary for self-defence against potential terrorist attacks. In a statement they stressed that their police trained extensively with US forces, and not with Russian police, and denied plans to bring Russian trainers to Bosnia.

The weapons are arriving at a time when Bosnia’s long-term stability is in doubt. The Dayton peace agreement ended the Bosnian conflict just over 22 years ago, dividing the country into two semi-autonomous parts: the Republika Srpska (RS) and a Muslim-Croat federation. The deal stopped the killing but created a system that rewarded ethnically based politics. Nationalist parties have a tight grip on power in their separate fiefdoms, corruption is rife, and the country has the highest official rate of youth unemployment in the world.” (The Guardian)