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Biden administration can’t overlook the Balkans when sanctioning Russia

As Western economic sanctions tank Russia’s economy, the Kremlin and its supporters are scouring the globe for jurisdictions to use to evade sanctions. Moscow appears to have set its sights on the Western Balkans, long plagued by corruption and malign Russian influence. Washington and its Western allies must work to combat Russia’s illicit financial networks and broader malign influence in the Western Balkans while expanding our own economic ties to the region.

Exploiting corruption in the Western Balkans is central to the Kremlin’s efforts to cultivate influence in the region. This problem began decades ago. As the former Yugoslav states liberalized their economies after the 1990s, festering corruption exposed openings for Russian manipulation. Under Vladimir Putin, Moscow has used the corrupt actors who benefited from this kleptocracy to exploit economic, ethnic, and religious fissures in Balkan societies, in order to use that instability to challenge the United States and our allies. Western

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