The Serbian minority in the north of Kosovo, which has been demonstrating and blocking highways for several weeks, is being supported by Serbia, which is under the influence of Russia. It was declared by Kosovo’s interior minister, Xhelal Svecla, Reuters reported.
On December 28, Kosovo closed its busiest border crossing after protesters on the Serbian side blocked it to support the Serbian minority in Kosovo who are opposing Prishtina’s declaration of independence.
Following growing tensions between Belgrade and Pristina, Serbs in the ethnically divided city of Mitrovica in northern Kosovo constructed additional barricades, according to Reuters. Serbia declared its army to be on the highest battle alert.
Read also: Serbian Wagner members stormed the border with Kosovo
In a statement, Svecla said that Serbia had increased its military readiness and was directing the construction of new barricades under the influence of Russia to defend itself from the criminal organizations that intimidate Kosovo residents of Serbian descent.
Serbia claims it only wants to safeguard its minority there and denies attempting to undermine Kosovo. Serbia will “continue to work for peace and seek compromise solutions,” according to Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic.
Read also: Serbia-Kosovo conflict escalation: point of no-return is close
Following the arrest of a former Serb policeman for allegedly attacking Kosovo police officers, Serbs in northern Kosovo constructed many roadblocks in and around Mitrovica in early December. They have engaged in gunfire with police officers.
Albanian-majority Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008 with the support of the West after a 1998-1999 war in which NATO intervened against the Serbian regime.
Read also: Dangerous relationship between Serbian far-right and Russia
Five EU countries do not recognize Kosovo as a sovereign state, and Kosovo is not a member of the UN. Serbia’s longtime partner, Russia, is preventing Kosovo from joining the UN.
In the northern region of Kosovo, there are about 50,000 Serbs who reject the legitimacy of the state or the government in Pristina. Instead, they recognize Belgrade as their capital.
Before removing the barriers, the Serbs had further demands, including the release of the detained officer.
A move by the Kosovo government to swap out Serbian-issued license plates with ones issued by Pristina prompted ethnic Serb mayors, judges, and 600 police officers in northern Kosovo municipalities to resign in November.
Read also: Serbia is balancing between Russia and the West: which side will it take?
Comments are closed.