An online discussion on the topic of how Russia’s war in Ukraine has impacted politics in southeast Europe took place on April 4, 2023, organized by the Russia and Eurasia Programme at Chatham House. The event was chaired by Professor Kataryna Wolczuk, Associate Fellow, Chatham House, professor of East European Politics, University of Birmingham. IGA chairperson, Dr. Rumena Filipova, presented the main trends of Russian disinformation in the Balkans since the start of the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine and analyzed the extent to which other authoritarian states (China, Turkey, the Gulf countries, Iran) have amplified Russian propaganda. Dr. Dimitar Bechev, Lecturer at the Oxford School of Global and Area Studies, highlighted Serbian political elite responses to the war and societal perceptions. Dr. Tena Prelec, research fellow at the Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Oxford, discussed how the stalling EU accession process has affected the Western Balkans and the interlinkage with Georgia and Moldova’s prospects for joining the Union.
The Q and A session raised a wide range of issues, including the degeneration of democracy following the frequent and inconclusive sets of elections in Bulgaria; the significance of southeast Europe in Russia’s foreign policy; the extent of conjunction of Russian and Chinese initiatives in the region; whether Balkan countries have been able to mount a sustainable response against foreign authoritarian-state disinformation.