Due in part to similar kinship, as in Serbia and Bulgaria, and in part due to shared religion, as in Greece, countries in the Balkans and the Eastern Mediterranean have traditionally had tense relations with Moscow.
Since Moscow’s unjustified attack on Ukraine in February, tensions between Europe and Russia have remained high, but Russian influence is still significant in several regions of the continent. However, the Balkans have been gradually separating themselves from Moscow. There are a number of nations that have recently joined NATO, including North Macedonia, the organization’s newest member. Earlier this year, while Russian tanks moved closer to Kyiv, the US and other nations were participating in two massive drills in Greece that involved dozens of planes and hundreds of special operations. These significant air combat and special operations drills demonstrate how the US and its allies are attempting to secure a crucial area of Europe amid rising Russian competition.