Kosovo on the brink of war: Serbia’s troop movements alarm the West

In view of growing tensions between Kosovo and Serbia, Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has warned of a further escalation of the conflict. “There must be no further escalation between Serbia and Kosovo. The political process must continue. And at this point I also appeal to Serbia to reduce its troops at the border,” said the Green politician on Sunday at a small Green party conference in Munich.

The security of Kosovo is of central importance for Germany, said Baerbock. There is a need for peace, “security and freedom for all people”. The USA also called on Serbia’s leadership to de-escalate. Serbian President Aleksander Vucic denied intentions to attack.

Leadership in Pristina sees itself threatened from three sides

On Saturday, the Kosovo leadership in Pristina sounded the alarm again: Serbia had advanced its military towards Kosovo – and even “from three different directions,” it said in a press release. On Friday, Serbia sent military and police to 48 forward operating bases along the border with Kosovo, in Serbian territory, a few kilometers from the border. Serbia deployed anti-aircraft systems and heavy artillery. The advance serves “a possible military aggression against the Republic of Kosovo,” it said.

Serbia denies intention of military strike

Serbian President Aleksander Vucic denied any intention of launching a military strike against Kosovo in an interview with the Financial Times. Rather, he will give the order to withdraw Serbian troops, as an escalation would be “counterproductive” in Belgrade’s EU aspirations. Serbia will not destroy its own years of efforts. “Serbia doesn’t want war,” he told the paper. Accusations from the West are “a campaign of lies,” Vucic added in a video speech on Instagram on Sunday.

USA concerned about situation

On Friday, Washington expressed concern about the buildup of Serbian troops on the border with Kosovo. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke on the phone with Vucic, who, however, denied the deployment of large troops.

Traffic light politicians for more German soldiers in Kosovo

Representatives of the SPD, Greens and FDP have called for strengthening the NATO-led peace mission KFOR and have advocated sending additional Bundeswehr forces. “Germany should, in consultation with the allies, quickly check whether the KFOR mandate is being completely filled and additional soldiers

“Send,” said Green Party politician Anton Hofreiter to the news magazine “Der Spiegel”. Politicians from the SPD and FDP made similar statements. NATO announced an increase in its KFOR troops last week. The Bundeswehr currently has 85 soldiers stationed in Kosovo.

The latest tension was triggered by an attack by a commando squad

The new tension was triggered exactly a week ago by the attack by a 30-strong, heavily armed Serbian commando squad on Kosovar police officers in the town of Banjska near Mitrovica in northern Kosovo. Three Serbian attackers and a Kosovar police officer were killed.

The Kosovo Serb top politician and businessman Milan Radoicic claimed responsibility for this attack. He claimed that he carried out the action on his own initiative and did not inform any official authorities in Serbia about it. The government in Pristina considers it impossible for Radoicic to go it alone.

On Saturday, Radoicic accepted an invitation from the Serbian Interior Ministry to discuss the events in Banjska. The Belgrade ministry said he appeared at the ministry accompanied by his lawyer, but “as a citizen” – i.e. not as a criminal defendant. The Interior Ministry announced that it would report these conversations to the highest public prosecutor’s office.

US Secretary of State Blinken had previously demanded that those responsible for the incident be held accountable.

Kosovo, which is now inhabited almost exclusively by Albanians, seceded from Serbia in 1999 with NATO help and declared independence in 2008. More than 100 countries, including Germany, recognize independence, but not Serbia, which is reclaiming its former province.

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