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Awaiting an unsanctioned Archduke Ferdinand moment?

November 11, 2016

An interesting event in the Balkans has been on the radar where coup plots and assassinations have seemingly reared their head.

The Ukrainian SBU claimed to have passed information leading to the arrest and deportation of Russians and Serbs that had apparently been involved or in the orbit of the occupied Donbas, had headed to Serbia with the intent of staging a coup in Montenegro storming government buildings and assassinating Prime Minister Djukanovic with the intent of installing a pro-Kremlin government.

The arrests in both Serbia and Montenegro, not to mention reaction within the national elites of both nations, seemingly sufficient to prompt an immediate flying visit from the head of the Russian Security Council Nikolai Patrushev and former FSB chief.

Attempts to manage the fallout subsequently followed with the usual denials and distractions and the general muddying of the waters in the public domain.

It is now claimed that diplomatic sources have revealed that this alleged attempted coup and assassination plot brought forth private apologies from Mr Patrushev and the assurances that it was not a Kremlin sanctioned action but rather a rogue operation.

Some or all of the above may be true, mostly true, partly true, but probably not entirely false.

However, unsanctioned actions are perhaps not surprising in the current Kremlin environment where there appears to be a lot of room for improvisation and risk taking for those on the overt or covert front line in order to get noticed and moved up.  When the official policy is plausible deniability, it becomes very easy to act knowing that such deniability is not only plausible but would also be genuine.

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And thus we perhaps await Europe’s next Archduke Franz Ferdinand moment – not through Kremlin design or sanction, but through a policy that may prove to simply have too little control for those improvising and risk taking to gain the “Tsar’s” attention.

Of course this may, and hopefully will not come to pass, but it seems something worth pondering upon the 11th day of the 11th month as we mark the armistice that ended World War I when there are so many potential Archduke stand-ins.

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