Brief: Sanctions on Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik

Milorad Dodik (photo: Politico, Andrej Cukic/EPA-EFE)


The Bosnian War started in the early 1990s amid Yugoslavia’s breakup. In the war, the Bosniaks, Croats, and Serbs fought against each other. Bosnian Serbs tried to create ethnically pure regions to join Serbia during the war. Simultaneously, Bosnian Croats also proclaimed their parastate, backed by Croatia. The conflict ended with the Dayton agreement in 1995 that created two separate administrative units called entities within the country, the Serb-dominated Republika Srpska and the Bosniak-Croat majority Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The two entities have some autonomy, with a state-level government in place. State-level institutions govern the army, intelligence, the top judiciary, and tax administration. Bosnia also has a three-member presidency made up of members representing each of the three dominant ethnic groups.[1]

Bosnia and Herzegovina (Republika Srpska and Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina; photo: Euronews)

In the fall of 2021, Christian Schmidt, the head of Bosnia’s Office of the High Representative, warned that Bosnia and Herzegovina could face the biggest existential threat of the post-war period if the international community does not rein separatist actions Bosnian Serbs led by Milorad Dodik. In a UN report, Schmidt said that “the prospects of further division and conflict are very real” if Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik withdraws ethnic Serb troops from the Bosnian army and creates a separate Bosnian Serb force.[2]


In December 2021, the Bosnian Serb entity assembly voted yes on provisions that would see the regional government opt-out of national institutions. The opposition left the proceedings in protest. However, the ruling coalition led by Dodik’s SNSD (Savez Nezavisnih Socijaldemokrata, English: Alliance of Independent Social Democrats) had enough votes to approve the proposals, including drafting new entity-level laws that would allow the Bosnian Serb region to withdraw from the Bosnian army, security services, judiciary and tax system. The proposed measures come with six months needed to draft new laws. During the session, Dodik quoted the former British conservative prime minister David Cameron, comparing himself to Cameron ahead of the Brexit vote.[3]

In December 2021, many countries, including the U.S., U.K., EU, Germany, France, and Italy, condemned lawmakers in the Bosnian Serb Republic, threatening stability in the Balkans. The actions in response arrived this week from Washington.
The United States Treasury Department imposed sanctions Wednesday on Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik, accusing him of destabilizing Bosnia and Herzegovina. The U.S. said Dodik had undermined Bosnian institutions and threatened the country’s territorial integrity through a combination of corruption and “divisive ethno-nationalistic rhetoric.” In addition to his subversive actions, “Dodik has used his official BiH position to accumulate personal wealth through graft, bribery, and other forms of corruption,” the U.S. Treasury said. “Cumulatively, these actions threaten the stability, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of BiH and undermine the Dayton Peace Accords, thereby risking wider regional instability.”[4]

Bottom line:

Today, the Western Balkans is fraught with highly turbulent political and social processes. The region has enormous geopolitical significance fraught with turbulent political and social processes, putting the Western Balkans on the stage of world politics. It is further complicating matters that processes in the region all interact with each other. It is important. So each event must be seen as a whole.

What does this all mean?

  1. The United States wants to stop the destabilization of Bosnia and Herzegovina and keep the 1995 Dayton agreement alive. Well, one thing we can be sure of. Washington possesses all the information, including intelligence information, needed to make a decision about sanctions.
  2. These sanctions can open another window of Russian influence.


[1] International envoy warns of Bosnia breakup amid tensions, Euronews with AP, Euronews, November 2, 2021,

[2] International envoy warns of Bosnia breakup amid tensions, Euronews with AP, Euronews, November 2, 2021,

[3] Bosnian Serb entity assembly in favour of withdrawing from central institutions in Bosnia, Euronews with AP, Euronews, December 11, 2021,

[4] US slaps sanctions on Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik, Politico, January 5, 2022,




International relations expert | Geopolitics and Geostrategy | Foreign and Security Policy

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Gergely Husz

Gergely Husz

International relations expert | Geopolitics and Geostrategy | Foreign and Security Policy

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