U.S. Treasury Places New Sanctions On Bosnian Serb Leader Dodik

The U.S. Treasury Department says it has expanded sanctions on Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik, who has led a campaign to strengthen a secessionist bid to withdraw from state-level institutions despite warnings from the West.

The Treasury Department made the announcement on its website on January 5, saying it had added television station Alternativna Televizija, which is linked to Dodik, to the sanctions list as well. It gave no further details.

Bosnia consists of a Serbian entity, a Muslim-Croat entity, and a central government that ties both together in a fragile state.

Dodik was elected in October 2018 as the Serbian member of Bosnia's multiethnic three-person presidency. He has repeatedly threatened to withdraw from state-level institutions, describing Bosnia as "an experiment by the international community" and an "impossible, imposed country."

Most recently, he led a campaign that saw lawmakers vote on December 10 to start a procedure for Bosnia-Herzegovina's Serb-dominated entity to withdraw from the Bosnian Army, security services, tax system, and judiciary.

They also voted on a declaration that calls for the drafting of a new constitution for the entity, Republika Srpska, and states that "all laws imposed" by the international high representative for Bosnia are "unconstitutional."

Bosnia has been in a protracted political crisis over secessionist moves by Republika Srpska, reviving fears that the peace deal which ended a 1992-95 war could unravel and threaten regional stability.

The U.S.-brokered Dayton peace accords created two highly autonomous entities that share some joint institutions: Republika Srpska and the Bosniak-Croat federation. The country is governed and administered along ethnic lines established by the agreement, with a weak and often dysfunctional central government.

The U.S. Treasury Department first imposed sanctions against Dodik in 2017, saying he was actively obstructing efforts to implement the 1995 Dayton accords.

The sanctions allowed U.S. authorities to block access by Dodik to any of his property or assets that are under U.S. jurisdiction.