"NATO exercises will not take place on the territory of Republika Srpska because the public opposes them and do not trust the alliance," the president of Republika Srpska in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Milorad Dodik, stated earlier this week during a press conference.
In February, it was reported that at the beginning of 2019, NATO will hold exercises on the Manjaca training range near Banja Luka, the main city of Republika Srpska and use A-10 airplanes armed with Vulcan cannons, the ordnance of which carries “some type of depleted uranium.” This was reported, in particular, by the Sarajevo web portal “Dnevnik”.
Official Sarajevo has denied the information about depleted uranium. The US embassy in Bosnia and Herzegovina has also said that if the exercises take place, live ammunition will not be used and the A-10 airplanes will be used only as one of the options.
However, Dodik said: “We can’t believe their promises, because everybody knows that local authorities have no power to control the situation when NATO’s combat aircraft land on any territory”.
Professor at the Security Department of the University of Banja Luka Predrag Ceranic told Sputnik that the commander of the Armed Forces in BiH, who should also take part in the exercises, is the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina (the three-member body which collectively serves as head of state of Bosnia and Herzegovina and consists of three members: one Bosniak, one Croat and one Serb).
"The Presidency has the power but in practice, such exercises could not be held without the consent of Republika Srpska. It would be good if NATO provides full information (about these exercises), because that could somehow calm the people who have suffered enough from the NATO operation and continue to feel the effects of it," he said.
According to him, NATO’s plan to hold the exercises on the territory of Republika Srpska demonstrates its intention to bring BiH into its fold.
Retired Colonel Milovan Milutinovic told Sputnik that the Manjaca range is not suitable for using ordnance with depleted uranium. He has also reminded that the Yugoslav People’s Army had earlier held shooting exercises there, but the region was not very densely populated at the time, so the exercises posed no risk.