The Balkans: Putin’s Wolves

As the wider geopolitical struggle between Russia and the West intensifies, support from the Kremlin has emboldened Bosnia’s Serb separatists. The CIA and Western intelligence services are worried by the rise in both Serbian and Muslim nationalism. Meanwhile the warning signs coming from this volatile region have slipped under the media’s radar. 

Russia has considerable leverage in Bosnia, as the region is highly dependent on Russian gas. And it wields influence through another powerful regional tool: The Serbian Orthodox Church.

The Russian influence is clear in “The Wolves of the Serbian Republic,” the Serbian section of the notorious Russian biker gang, the Night Wolves. Since the invasion of Ukraine, their support for the Kremlin has been unwavering and they reveal to our team that some of them are active on the frontline with Russian forces. Back home, the bikers display the letter ‘Z’ to show their support. 

The rise in nationalism strikes fear into the hearts of the Muslim population, who remember the war. However they are met with anger from Serbs who believe that they, too, were victims of the war. These Serbian nationalists feel that only Russia recognises what they have suffered.

Through the Serbian Orthodox church and the Wolves, Serbian ultranationalists have extended their influence into neighbouring Montenegro. About a third of the population remains pro-Serbian and largely pro-Russian. But Montenegro is a member of NATO and voted for sanctions against Russia. Vladimir Putin may have taken his revenge through a massive cyber attack in 2022, an accusation which Russia flatly denies.


  • Year: 2023
  • Duration: 52 mins
  • Production: Slugnews
  • Director: Jean-Pierre Canet & Aude Léa Rapin
  • Available Versions: ENG, FRA
  • Country of production: France

Related Programs

The Dayton Legacy: Bosnia, A Fragile Peace

Nearly thirty years after the end of the war that ravaged the country, Bosnia appears to be again on the brink of collapse. This small, fragile and multi-ethnic state is stuck between identity crises and foreign influences, institutional fragmentation and secessionist temptations. 

More info

Bosnia: The Last Tape

All the men in Sifa’s family went missing in the Srebenica massacre and were later identified in the mass graves, with the exception of her elder brother. Now, Sifa has to return to her native Bosnia for one more funeral.

More info

The Nightwolves: Putin’s Bikers

The largest motorcycle club in Russia has around 5000 members who are organised into 50 local chapters. They are considered ultra nationalist, ultra conservative and completely loyal to the Kremlin.

More info