| 5 March 2024, Tuesday |

France to conduct fast-jet training flights over Bosnia

In view of the worldwide security situation worsening, the European Union peacekeeping force in Bosnia (EUFOR) announced on Saturday that France will perform fast-jet training flights over Bosnia.

The EU decided last week to raise its EUFOR force from 600 to 1,100 troops by sending reserves from Austria, Bulgaria, Romania, and Slovakia to fend off possible unrest following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Troops have already begun to arrive.

Bosnia is hundreds of kilometers away from the war, but it is dealing with an increasingly strong Bosnian Serb separatist movement, which many think has at least implicit Moscow support.

“The Charles de Gaulle Aircraft carrier is currently conducting operational training in the Mediterranean Sea and, from Monday 7th March, its Rafale aircraft will conduct overflights of the Western Balkans including Bosnia-Herzegovina,” EUFOR said.

NATO and EU senior officials have warned that instability from the war in Ukraine could spread to the Western Balkans, Moldova and Georgia.

Bosnia, like Ukraine, has long said it wants to join NATO – a position that has infuriated Russia. Moscow said in March last year it would react if Bosnia took steps towards joining the U.S.-led military alliance.

The Bosnian Serbs, led by pro-Russian Milorad Dodik, want the country to remain neutral and stay out of NATO.

Dodik, who is the Serb member of the country’s tripartite presidency, has initiated Bosnia’s worst political crisis since the end of its war in the 1990s, challenging state institutions as part of the Serbs’ long-time bid to secede and eventually join neighboring Serbia.

EUFOR, which replaced NATO peacekeeping troops in Bosnia in 2004, is made up of about 3,500 personnel – 600 of them currently deployed in country.

  • Reuters