A new military buildup in the Balkans

The region around the Western Balkans, with the NATO and EU status of various countries
Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina may soon be surrounded by NATO members (source: macpixxel for GIS)
  • Balkan countries are beefing up their militaries
  • NATO and Russia are ramping up their presence in the region
  • Tensions over Kosovo and Macedonia are escalating
  • A drawdown seems unlikely anytime soon

Around the world, countries are spending more on their militaries, a trend that is already evident in the Western Balkans. In 2018, global military expenditure rose to $1.7 trillion, its highest level since the end of the Cold War. At a NATO summit in July, United States President Donald Trump insisted that the alliance should double its military spending target, from 2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) to 4 percent. The European Union will spend more than 5 billion euros annually on funding defense research and arms acquisition through its new European Defense Fund.

These developments raise concerns about a military buildup in the region, either through hybrid warfare or new military deployments and bases.

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