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German Troops Rejoin EU's Bosnian Mission, Sparking Russian Anger.

EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell visits the EUFOR base near Sarajevo on March 16.

EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell visits the EUFOR base near Sarajevo on March 16.

A contingent of around two dozen German troops arrived in Bosnia-Herzegovina on August 16 as part of the European Union's nearly two-decade peacekeeping and security mission in the troubled Balkan state, in a move quickly disparaged by Russia's embassy.

The return of German troops to the EUFOR mission for the first time in a decade reflects Western concern at centrifugal ethnic and political forces and potential geopolitical spillover from the Ukraine war.

EUFOR last week announced the deployment of up to 50 Bundeswehr troops to the former Yugoslav republic, which remains divided into a Bosniak and Croat federation and a mostly Serb entity known as Republika Srpska under the terms of a 1995 cease-fire known as the Dayton Agreement.

On August 16, it called the arrival of around 30 troops "a further demonstration of the EU's commitment to a stable, prosperous, and European future for all the citizens" of Bosnia.

EUFOR's Althea mission in Bosnia comprises around 1,100 soldiers from 20 countries.

EUFOR said after the German troops' arrival at Camp Butmir that "the advance party of German personnel arriving this week are expected to be followed by further troops deployed on a phased basis."

The Serb member of Bosnia's tripartite presidency, Milorad Dodik, who has openly sought secession for Republika Srpska and hastened instability with rival institutions, has criticized the arrival of German troops with references to World War II.

EUFOR is in part tasked with ensuring civilian order and compliance with Dayton alongside an international high representative, currently German Christian Schmidt.

Dodik ally Russia last year accelerated its push to phase out Schmidt's post.

EUFOR's current mandate expires in November and there is speculation that Moscow could use its UN Security Council veto to scupper an extension.

Russia's embassy in Sarajevo alleged on August 16 that the United States and Britain are "preparing the ground for the creeping NATOization" of Bosnia.

Given European forces' most recent report to the UN Security Council suggesting Bosnia is calm and stable, the embassy said, "the reasons for the need to expand military personnel in EUFOR, including at the expense of Bundeswehr soldiers, are groundless."

It said that it "especially" considers suggestions that the Russia-Ukraine conflict is affecting the situation in Bosnia as "unacceptable."

Bosnia has EU aspirations but has struggled to implement reforms and even maintain unified policies in the face of governmental and administrative divisions based on ethnicity and geography.

Elections scheduled for later this year are in jeopardy as Serbs continue to press for independence and ethnic Croats insist on major electoral changes or they will boycott the vote.

More than 100,000 people died in the 1992-95 Bosnian War that ended with the signing by Serb, Croat, and Bosniak leaders of a U.S.-mediated peace in Dayton, Ohio.

EUFOR replaced NATO peacekeeping troops in Bosnia in 2004.

With reporting by Reuters

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