WASHINGTON–U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) sent a letter this week to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, on the importance of the European Union Force in Bosnia and Herzegovina (EUFOR) mandate and the development of a comprehensive strategy towards Bosnia and Herzegovina. 

“The fragility of the peace established under the Dayton Peace Accords is evident and alarming. Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine has emboldened actors in Bosnia and Herzegovina who have long been supported by the Kremlin and other external actors, and the risk of violence cannot be ignored. The United States must focus on maintaining peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” the senators wrote.

The senators went on to underscore the importance of the EUFOR mandate, which has helped keep the peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina following the end of the war in 1995. The number of NATO troops in the region under the mandate has steadily decreased. Amid precarious political dynamics in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the lawmakers argue that a more concerted strategic response from European Union (EU) member states, the United Kingdom and the United States is necessary to sufficiently source the EUFOR Althea Mission.

“Russia continues to claim the Western Balkans as within its sphere of influence, and Russian officials have issued numerous statements of support for regional actors opposed to both European integration and NATO. The United States must not turn a blind eye to these threats; we must demonstrate our commitment to European security by maintaining an effective presence in the Balkans as we continue to respond to Russia’s unprovoked war in Ukraine,” said the lawmakers.

In closing, the senators urged the Biden administration to develop a strategy, in coordination with NATO and the EU, for how to maintain a peacekeeping force in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the event of a Russian veto of the EUFOR mandate. 

In April, Murphy, Shaheen, and Tillis traveled to the Western Balkans, including Bosnia and Herzegovina. Murphy also co-sponsored the Western Balkans Democracy and Prosperity Act, which would support economic development in the region through initiatives on infrastructure, trade and anti-corruption, including codification of sanctions to deter destabilizing activity in the Western Balkans.

Full text of the letter is available here.