On Friday, NATO announced that it will be expanding its peacekeeping presence in northern Kosovo due to growing tensions with neighboring Serbia. The United States has urged Serbia to remove their military buildup along the border with Kosovo.
Tensions have escalated following a recent incident where approximately 30 heavily armed Serbs raided the village of Banjska in northern Kosovo. One Kosovo police officer and three of the attackers were killed during the resulting gunfights.
Kosovo’s Prime Minister, Albin Kurti, stated to the Associated Press that NATO is necessary due to the lengthy border with Serbia and the recent increase in capabilities of the Serbian army. He added that they possess significant military equipment from both China and the Russian Federation.
Kurti stated that these individuals desire to go back in time and are actively seeking a time machine. Their goal is to reset the clock by 30 years, however, Kurti believes this is an unrealistic possibility.
In 2008, Kosovo announced its independence, but Belgrade and Moscow have both declined to acknowledge it.
The spokesperson for the White House National Security Council, John Kirby, has verified that there has been a significant military presence of Serbian tanks and artillery along the border. He stated that this increase in troops is causing instability and has urged Serbia to remove these forces.
The White House emphasized their preparedness to collaborate with allies in order to guarantee that KFOR (NATO’s Kosovo Force) has adequate resources to carry out its mission. This was stated during a conversation between U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and Kurti.
Kirby stated that Secretary of State Antony Blinken of the United States had contacted President Aleksandar Vučić of Serbia to advocate for “prompt de-escalation” and a resumption of communication.
Additionally, the United Kingdom announced that it would be deploying troops to assist in the efforts of NATO’s peacekeeping forces on the field.
On Friday, Milan Radoicic, the second-in-command of Serb List, the primary political party for Kosovo-Serbs, stepped down from his position. He made this decision after confessing to organizing the armed organization responsible for the assault.
The United States’ ambassador to Kosovo stated that the recent attack was purposely carried out to disrupt stability in the area and cautioned about possible future escalation. According to Ambassador Jeffrey M. Hovenier, the attack was coordinated and carried out with skill, indicating that the perpetrators may have had military experience. He also noted that the large amount of weapons used in the attack points to a serious and calculated effort to destabilize security in the region.
For years, the EU and the U.S. have been striving to negotiate a long-term agreement between Kosovo and Serbia to achieve lasting peace. However, reaching a deal has proven to be difficult due to ongoing disagreements about the status of northern Kosovo, which is primarily inhabited by Serbs.