Serbian army deployed near Kosovo border as tensions rise

Serbian Defense Minister Milos Vucevic declared that the Serbian army is being deployed close to the border with Kosovo, which Belgrad refuses to recognize as an independent state, Novosti reports.

“I expect them to be in their positions in the coming hours. We are not playing war, but Serbia’s red lines are known. We are currently deploying according to the current situation,” Vucevic said.

Photo: Tensions in Kosovo; credit: BIRN

The Minister noted that Serbian military units will remain in position until further notice. Earlier, Serbia moved its armed forces in full combat readiness.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic put the country’s army on full combat alert and ordered its units to approach the border with Kosovo on Friday after violence erupted around the newly sworn-in Albanian mayors in northern Kosovo.

Vucic’s order came after clashes between Serbs in northern Kosovo and Kosovo police trying to ensure access to the newly elected Albanian mayors’ workplaces.

Local media reported the presence of Serbs at three municipal buildings in Zubin Potok, Leposaviq, and Zvecan after their mayors were sworn in.

In videos posted online, shots and shock bombs could be heard, and large machinery was spotted in Leposaviq, similar to those used to block roads in December.

Read also: Russia is poisoning hopes for the reconciliation between Kosovo and Serbia

The unrest followed disputed elections in Kosovo on April 23, which ethnic Serbs largely boycotted.

The mayors, all ethnic Albanians, were elected in April after Serb representatives resigned en masse from Kosovo institutions at the end of 2022. 

They abandoned their mandates following Pristina’s decision to enforce a rule that all vehicles in Kosovo should have Kosovo-issued plates. This decision affected Serbs who did not recognize Pristina’s independence from Serbia in 2008 and still have Serbian plates.

The local election was boycotted by Serbs, who represent a majority in the region, following calls from Belgrade.

Kosovo police published a notification saying they are working to preserve the peace and ensure public safety.

Read also: Russia is waging a disinformation war in the Balkans

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