(Please read Part I before this article)
The Central Balkans
This bloc of interests is still taking shape, but unlike the others that have been mentioned, it’s actually opposed to the Intermarum’s geopolitical dictates and can be understood as being the multipolar world’s frontline defense organization. The Central Balkans are geographically centered on Serbia but also include Republika Srpska, Macedonia, and possibly even Montenegro in the cultural-political sense if the citizens of Podgorica succeed in keeping their country out of NATO. The grouping of states might not have ‘naturally’ begun to form had it not been for the majority of their citizens’ shared fear of NATO and unipolar occupation. The New Cold War has finally given the region a viable and presentable alternative to Euro-Atlanticism through a rejuvenated Russia that’s eager to expand its strategic partnerships, especially in areas of similar civilizational experience like the Central Balkans.
Military-Political Threat Analysis:
The Central Balkans, if they can succeed in strategically reintegrating under Russian support, could become an influential geopolitical force in Europe, but alas, it would come with certain predestined geopolitical enemies. First of all, this would be St. Stephen’s Space, and the tension between the two rival groups is already playing out over the refugee crisis. Hungary has fenced off Serbia, with Croatia planning to follow its former imperial hegemon in the near future, the effect of which is to pursue a coordinated anti-Serbian policy along the country’s northern border. Taking it a step further, Hungary, especially under a Vona Presidency, could become wildly assertive in promoting what it says to be the interests of its ethnic diaspora, which in this instance would be a Budapest-driven demand for autonomy in Vojvodina. Croatia could also use the influence it has over certain political forces in Sarajevo to agitate for a revision of the Dayton Accords in order to raise tensions with Republika Srpska right around the same time, in yet another coordinated attempt of Budapest-Zagreb to throw the Central Balkans off balance.
Looking eastward, the Black Sea Bloc isn’t expected to jump into the fray, but it could take certain moves to increase border tensions against Serbia and Macedonia. This is very probable in the case of Bulgaria, which as previously explained, has staked a large part of its political and cultural identity on de-facto irredentism against Macedonia. What is most troubling from the southern sector, however, isn’t Bulgaria (as threatening as it may become), but Albania, since its transnational ethnic community in the occupied Serbian Province of Kosovo and Northwestern Macedonia can be activated to assist in asymmetrical warfare operations against the Central Balkans. Furthermore, this bloc is remarkably vulnerable to attacks by any dissatisfied “stay-behind” ‘refugees’ that might get armed by the KLA or any other yet-to-be-named Albanian-affiliated terrorist organizations. Another threat comes from the Color Revolution that the US is planning in Macedonia, and if Serbia continues with its pro-Russian orientation, then it will also be victimized yet again as well. All of these factors combine to make the Central Balkans the most destabilization-prone region in Europe, and it’s all due to the US and its proxy allies’ connivances against it in trying to exterminate the last vestiges of multipolarity on the continent.
“The Best Laid Schemes Of Mice And Men”
As the saying goes, “the best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry”, and the Intermarum is no exception in this regard. Aside from any unpredictable results that a possible Balkan War might bring in offsetting the utility and cohesiveness of the Intermarum as an anti-Russian geopolitical instrument, there are three other possible scenarios that could play out as well, and they’re all related to the space’s “squeaky hinges”:
There are three geopolitical ‘hinges’ in the Intermarum that might not ‘behave’ as they are expected to, which could create some unforetold problems for the foreign decision makers tasked with bringing them to heel. To start off, this geopolitical category is composed of states that aren’t pivots in their own right, but whose movement one way or another has a significant impact on the nearby pivot state. Using this understanding, one can see that the concept isn’t limited to the Intermarum, but for the sake of the article’s scope, it’s being limited to that space. The three hinges under study are Lithuania, Slovakia, and Moldova, and their unpredictable precisely because there’s no guarantee that they’ll accept being placed in a position of servitude vis-à-vis their envisioned geopolitical ‘master’.
This country is unusually proud of its history and has recently experienced a tidal wave of uncontrollable nationalism that’s been directed against Russia. However, as with all manner of nationalisms in Eastern Europe, it has the chance of overstepping its ‘useful’ anti-Russian function and moving in an ‘unwanted’ direction that runs contrary to American geopolitical designs. Just as some Ukrainians’ hate for Russia has revived a near-equal hate for Poles, so too could a similar effect take place in Lithuania, which was humiliated for centuries as a junior partner to Poland. The relatively fresh memories of Poland’s interwar aggression against Lithuania can easily be unearthed, especially as Warsaw tries to impose its hegemony on Vilnius once more.
If Lithuania balks and begins to suspect Poland of the same type of “imperialism” that it hyperactively accuses Russia of, then it could find itself creating a chain reaction of two-sided paranoia in the entire Baltic chain that could turn against the Viking Bloc and Neo-Commonwealth. It doesn’t mean that this space would be any closer to Russia, but it would obstruct the functioning of these two blocs and create unexpected difficulties that could give rise to new, unpredictable challenges in the strategic environment. These would of course play against the expectations of the US and represent a sort of backtracking in its previously unquestioned dominance over the region. It could also by extent make it harder for Sweden to pursue its neo-imperialist agenda in the Baltics, too (which in any case would have been on the US’ strategic behalf anyway).
Bratislava had passed centuries under Hungarian control, thus leading to a post-independence suspicion of its former hegemon, especially since a vocal Hungarian minority still populates the southern part of the country. As Hungary becomes more demanding in promoting the perceived (or Budapest-manipulated) interests of its ethnic diaspora, it’s a sure bet that Hungarians in Slovakia will be brought into the mix in some shape or form. This is bound to send alarm bells ringing all throughout Bratislava, as many Slovakians had suspected this type of scenario for years and would immediately become reactionary to any Hungarian advances in this direction. Still, like what was written before, if pressed to choose between an emboldened Poland and an emboldened Hungary, Slovakia might find itself overly pressured to side with the “devil it knows” in Budapest than an unfamiliar one in Warsaw.
But then again, as was also written about earlier, the Visegrad Group could function as a type of forerunner to external hegemony over Slovakia’s affairs, and it could theoretically provide Poland with just as much opportunity to dominate Slovakia as it does Hungary. In fact, Slovakia might even find Poland to more preferential to Hungary, especially given the fears that ethnic Slovaks have of Hungarian successionism or some type of ethnic-related disturbance. This might of course engender exactly that type of (re)action from Hungary – support of ethnic-related destabilization in Slovakia – in order to advance its nationalist agenda, feeling equally as emboldened as Poland is, and also aiming to augment its influence over the Carpathian state. If a type of hegemonic rivalry between Poland and Hungary breaks out over Slovakia, then it could turn the two ‘bloc buddies’ against each other and create such an atmosphere of distrust that strategic coordination between them is all but impossible.
The government in Chisinau is inherently unstable, having been unable to hold itself together and function anywhere near as similarly to its Western European counterparts. This makes it highly unpredictable and easily susceptible to foreign interference over its affairs, which depending on the administration in charge, readily accepts and even encourages in some cases. The crux of conflict here and the reason the country is such a ‘squeaky hinge’ is because there is a fair chance that the population could put a Russian-pragmatic government into power that might make moves to judiciously resolve the Transnistria issue. Of course, what’s meant by this is a fair and even settlement unlike anything that the West would ever find acceptable (to them outright domination is the only answer), and of course, Romania would in this scenario find a way to harness its sympathetic followers in Moldova to agitate for political integration with Bucharest. This forecast isn’t unique by any measures, but because of its importance in the context of the Intermarum and the likelihood that it could precipitate a crisis that Romania itself may not have been ready for (but pushed into creating or responding to by the West), it deserves to be mentioned when speaking about unexpected incidents that could offset the cohesiveness of the Intermarum space.
The US is taking the New Cold War directly to Russia’s doorstep, literally, and the pursuit of the Intermarum is a direct case in point. Poland’s latest elections have placed the ultra-pro-American governing party in a position to rubber stamp all of the ‘Gray Cardinal’ Jaroslaw Kaczynski’s proposals for creating the Neo-Commonwealth. This key cornerstone of the Intermarum’s division into regional NATO blocs will go a long way towards furthering the US’ grand strategy of keep Europe divided, in this case between a pro-American East and a possibly Russian-pragmatic West, which would thus extend Washington’s control over the continent into the foreseeable future. The contours of the Intermarium reflect historical boundaries between the former European empires, with the only exception being the Central Balkans, which is an entirely new idea that incorporates the most strategic remnants of the former Yugoslavia. As the Intermarum speeds along in its formation, it might run into three unexpected challenges through the ‘squeaky hinges’ of Lithuania, Slovakia, and Moldova, which could lead to the bloc struggling to maintain its cohesiveness as its members are distracted by certain geopolitical diversions in their regions. As an overall assessment of the processes that are currently taking shape in Europe, it’s clear that strategic blocs are being formed on a regional basis, but due to the tense atmosphere that they create (especially as regards the Intermarum’s likely aggression against the Central Balkans), the durability of peace in Europe has never been more fragile.
Andrew Korybko is the American political commentaror currently working for the Sputnik agency, exclusively for ORIENTAL REVIEW.