Rising Tensions Between Serbia And Kosovo, Military Activity Spotted
EUROPE - (Ongoing report) Shots were fired, and explosions were heard on the border between Serbia and Kosovo after a stun grenade was thrown. Serbia has asked NATO to deploy the Serbian army, as well as the police to Kosovo, according to Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic.
During a press conference in Belgrade, the Serbian President made an announcement saying he had the intention to put in a request to the commander of the NATO forces KFOR (NATO's international peacekeeping force in Kosovo) to deploy the Serbian army and police in Kosovo.
Kosovo police say that shots were fired at on-duty officers on three separate occasions and were forced to respond in self-defense with firearms.
"Individuals from certain criminal groups who blocked several roads in the north of the country, from different locations shot at police units that were on official duty near the Gazivode lake dam, on the way to the border to the Brnjak crossing with Serbia,” the authorities said.
"Police units in self-defense were forced to respond with firearms to criminal persons/groups, who retreated and moved away in an unknown direction. Also, according to information from police units on the ground, gunshots were heard in several different locations."
The Prime Minister of Kosovo, Albin Kurti said that although Kosovo doesn't want conflict, it will respond to aggression.
"We don't want conflict, we want peace and progress, but we will respond to aggression with all the strength we have," he stated.
Barricades rose in northern Kosovo on Saturday after Kosovo police had announced they closed the roads to the two border crossings with Serbia temporarily, according to a translated report by Polish news agency Rzeczpospolita.
That evening, the report says explosions were heard which it says were "probably" the use of stun grenades. It also reported shots fired near Zubin Potok.
The report said that a police patrol in Mitrovica was attacked by "people armed with long guns," and reported that one officer was injured.
The Polish newspaper said that Serbian troops returning to Kosovo could dramatically increase tensions in the Balkans.
Kosovo's President Vjosa Osmani said that statements by Serbian politicians were "an open threat of police and military aggression" and said that "there will never again be Serbian police and soldiers on the territory of the Republic of Kosovo."
Kosovo, which is mostly Albanian in ethnicity, broke away from Serbia after the 1998-1900 war. Serbia has since refused to recognize Kosovo as an independent state.
The latest tensions flared up after a former member of the Kosovo Police force was arrested after having resigned from his post last month.
A statement by Germany's Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said, "Kosovo reduced tensions by postponing local elections. Recent rhetoric from Serbia did the opposite. Suggesting sending Serbian forces to Kosovo is completely unacceptable."
BNN news is now reporting Kosovo force helicopters have been spotted flying near the Rudar barricades, as well as other military activity in Kosovo throughout the night.
Serbia Says It Wants To Calm Tensions And Deescalate The Situation
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic says that he seeks to calm down tensions and deescalate the situation, but has also demanded the release of Serbs from Kosovo that were arrested.
After he met with the National Security Council, he said that Kosovo Serbs must not engage in violence against NATO troops, according to a report by Reuters.
"No one, under no circumstances should be involved in attacks ... on Eulex and KFOR," the news agency cited him as saying.
This report is ongoing and will be added to when/if the conflict progresses.
September 2022: NATO Calls Reserve Troops To Kosovo For Training Amid Serbian TensionsBy Donald Standeford, SSJ Founder/Publisher.
In September NATO had called in reserve troops to Kosovo and assigned them to its KFOR peacekeeping mission for training, according to KFOR's regional commander east, Colonel Christopher Samulski.
Samulski, speaking at Camp Bondsteel, which is one of KFOR's bases and said that the reserve troops were called "as part of normal contingency planning."
He said that a "battalion-size" unit had arrived in Kosovo, which usually consists of anywhere between 500 and 1,000 soldiers.
Tensions between Kosovo and Serbia increased after protests were carried out by Serbians in Kosovo due to a law requiring them to use vehicle plates issued by the state.
After independence was declared in 2008, Serbia refuses to recognize the independence of Kosovo. Serbians living in northern Kosovo consider Belgrade to be their capital, rather than Pristina, according to the Jerusalem Post.
3,700 peacekeepers from NATO are currently stationed in Kosovo in order to keep ethnic Serbians and Albanians from clashing with one another.
Roadblocks that were put up during the protests in the summer were taken down after NATO intervened. Kosovo had agreed to postpone the date in which the new licensing law was to take effect, to October 31st.
Samulski said in September that he could not rule out new tensions in northern Kosovo as the deadline in October draws closer. He said that NATO is ready to call in more troops if tensions rise again in the region and that the reserve troops are being called in for training.
"The First Fusiliers [British Infantry Unit] from the UK are here as the strategic reserve, which is a normal rehearsal of their entrance and integration in normal operations" Samulski stated.
He added, "Additionally, there are other reserves that lie outside Kosovo that have different time frames in which they are expected to arrive here should KFOR request that they become available."
And said that, "those are available should we deem that they are required, based on the current situation on the ground".
August 2022: Tensions At Boiling Point Between Serbia & KosovoBy Adam Butler, SSJ Correspondent
Serbs blocked roads that were located close to high-level border crossings with its neighbor Kosovo. On August 1st, new regulations in Kosovo, regarding ID documentation and license plates issued in Serbia were to come into force. The mood on the border has increased ever since. There have also been reported sightings of NATO peacekeeping forces flying in northern Kosovo.
The new law stated that people going to Kosovo from Serbia would have their Serbian-issued documents exchanged for new entry-exit identification documents which will be issued by Kosovo and valid for only 3 months. This is a policy that is identical to one already imposed in Serbia for travelers visiting from Kosovo.
Also to begin on August 1st is a new license-plate law that would ban Ethnic Serbs, in northern Kosovo, from utilizing a Serbian-made license plate, which has taken place since the war in 1999. The plates have always been regarded as illegal but were tolerated in the northern areas which contain Serbian majorities.
The dispute had originally begun in the fall of 2021 when Kosovar officials began ordering all travelers entering Kosovo from Serbia to use a temporary printed license plate that had a 60-day validity. This was in response to ethnic Serbs utilizing the plates made in Serbia.
Kosovo police subsequently closed all border crossings in Brnjak & Jarinje for motorized vehicles due to protestors blockading the streets, earlier this evening. Kosovo in response, sent in Kosovar police to de-escalate the situation, all the while Serbia sent military jets and helicopters to the border, which began low-flight maneuvers, buzzing the border in a show-of-force response. Kosovo has since delayed the implementation of its new license-plate regulation to September 1st and granted a 60-day grace period in hopes of de-escalating the situation.
In a long-standing rule, Serbia, and her allies such as Russia & China, have never acknowledged Kosovo's independence, or its rights to impose and enforce any laws and regulations, though most western countries do. In fact, the European Union has tried for the last 10 years to get the 2 countries to open a dialogue, but all efforts have failed.
Kosovar Prime Minister Albin Kurti has stated that Kosovo's application to the European Union will be submitted before the end of 2022, even though tensions have begun to boil again between Kosovo and Serbia, which is also applying for EU admittance.
In a tweet from Mark Urban, diplomatic & defense editor for BBC Newsnight, he stated these 2 tweets:
Tweet 1: "Tensions are very high currently between Serbia & Kosovo, with reports of barricades going up in Serb areas of the province and clashes. It's an evolving situation tonight but it's possible that Serbia has upped the ante as part of a geopolitical move coordinated with Russia."
Tweet 2: "NATO has described the situation as tense, notes it is ready to intervene 'if' stability is jeopardized and restates its commitment to political process between Kosovo and Serbia."
Earlier today, police reported gunshots from the direction of police, but no one was reported as wounded. It was also stated that travelers that were passing by were assaulted as well by protestors, as well as attacks on vehicles. Air raid sirens have also been activated in the town of North Mitrovica, which is inhabited mainly by Serbians.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Maria Zakharova, has blamed the escalating situation on what she termed as "groundless discriminatory rules imposed by Kosovo.
As described by the NATO mission KFOR, the situation is intense and they are prepared to intervene, according to DW.
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