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UK sanctions two Bosnian-Serb leaders

LONDON (AP) – Britain sanctioned two leading Bosnian-Serb politicians on Monday, accusing them of encouraging ethnic hatred and jeopardising the peace accord that ended the civil war in Bosnia-Herzegovina more than 25 years ago.

Milorad Dodik and Zeljka Cvijanovic will be hit with asset freezes and travel bans in the first sanctions the United Kingdom (UK) has levelled in Bosnia. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine had emboldened the pair to further erode the international rules based system in the Western Balkans.

“These two politicians are deliberately undermining the hard won peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina,’’ Truss said in a statement. “Encouraged by Putin, their reckless behaviour threatens stability and security across the Western Balkans.’’

UK authorities said the pair have have used their positions to push for the de facto secession of Republika Srpska – one of two semi-autonomous regions that comprise the federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina – in direct contravention of the country’s constitution.

The United States (US) Treasury Department on Monday imposed its own sanctions on seven more people from the Western Balkans.

Dodik has for years advocated separating the Bosnian Serb mini-state from the federation and uniting it with neighbouring Serbia.

He is the Bosnian Serb member of Bosnia’s tripartite presidency, which also includes representatives of the Bosnian Muslim and Croat communities.

Secession would violate the Dayton Accords, the 1995 US-sponsored agreement that ended Bosnia’s civil war, which killed more than 100,000 people and left millions homeless.

Milorad Dodik and Zeljka Cvijanovic. PHOTO: AP