Disinfo: The West has promoted separatism in Yugoslavia


The West has promoted separatism in Yugoslavia and created national states that still do not know what to do. Why not recognise Donbas or Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh)?


Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative drawing parallels between the case of the independence of Kosovo and Russia's actions in the post-Soviet area.

The process of the breakup of Yugoslavia was painful, leading to wars. (civil to be erased, and plural to be added, because there were wars in Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia) The cause of the dissolution (more suitable than collapse) of Yugoslavia lied in inner political and social processes. As described by the BBC: "Nationalism had once again replaced communism as the dominant force in the Balkans". The West's involvement in the events of the breakup of Yugoslavia was only with the aim of peace-keeping. I.e. in 1999 NATO sought to cease ethnic cleansing in the Kosovo region.

Kremlin propaganda uses the story of Yugoslavia to defend Moscow's activities in areas of frozen conflicts (i.e. Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Donbas, Nagorno-Karabakh, etc). The defence tactic accuses the West of double standards, drawing unreasonable parallels between the Kosovo independence movement and Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea. This is clear manipulation because recognition of Kosovar statehood was held after civil war and decades of international administration and status negotiations. The annexation of the Crimea was different: the period between Russia's military operation and annexation of Crimea was 20 days.

The parallels between the history of the breakup of Yugoslavia and the current situation in Donbas or Nagorno-Karabakh are incorrect as well. The recent escalation in the Nagorno-Karabakh region is a continuation of the decades-old conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia. As for Donbas, it is historically a Ukrainian region. The so-called DPR (or DNR) and LNR are parts of the Ukrainian regions Donetsk and Luhansk but supported by Russian military units. Not a single country has recognised them as independent entities.

See similar cases of manipulation: Double standards in Western attitudes on status of Kosovo, Crimea, Crimean referendum was the will of the Crimeans, while Kosovo was an outside intervention, Nagorno-Karabakh conflict leads to more tensions in the Donbas.


  • Reported in: Issue 219
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 04/11/2020
  • Language/target audience: Russian
  • Country: Armenia, Yugoslavia, Azerbaijan, Kosovo, Ukraine
  • Keywords: Yugoslavia, Kosovo, West, Nagorno-Karabakh, Donbas


Cases in the EUvsDisinfo database focus on messages in the international information space that are identified as providing a partial, distorted, or false depiction of reality and spread key pro-Kremlin messages. This does not necessarily imply, however, that a given outlet is linked to the Kremlin or editorially pro-Kremlin, or that it has intentionally sought to disinform. EUvsDisinfo publications do not represent an official EU position, as the information and opinions expressed are based on media reporting and analysis of the East Stratcom Task Force.

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