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Combat readiness: tensions between Serbia and Kosovo are growing, the situation is critical

Tensions with Kosovo have risen sharply, forcing Serbia to further strengthen its military presence along the border. According to France-Presse, four armored vehicles were deployed along the border with Kosovo.

A NATO-led KFOR peacekeeping force in Pristina said it was monitoring the situation very closely to “ensure the security and free movement of all sections of the population in Kosovo.” KFOR patrols have been stepped up, including in northern Kosovo.

About a week ago, the Pristina government transferred special police units to northern Kosovo. The region is dominated by Serbs. The majority of the Serb minority in Kosovo does not recognize the government in Pristina, which consists of ethnic Albanians.

Pristina’s decision

The deployment of Kosovo special forces in northern Kosovo was seen by Belgrade as a “provocation”. Over the weekend, Serbian President Alexander Vucic ordered an increase in the combat readiness of some army and police units, and Defense Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic visited two military bases near the Kosovo border. Shortly before that, Serbian military planes flew several times over the airspace near the border.

Military tensions were fueled by an order from the Kosovo government banning the use of Serbian license plates on vehicles in Kosovo. The event affected several thousand Serbs in Kosovo – especially in the Serb enclaves around the town of Kosovska Mitrovica in northern Kosovo, most of which still use Serbian car registration plates.

However, the ban also applies to travelers coming from Serbia – on the border with Kosovo, they are now forced to remove Serbian license plates and replace them with Kosovo ones. Thousands of ethnic Serbs are protesting daily against new rules from Pristina and blocking traffic to border crossings.

Serbia and Russia do not recognize Kosovo’s independence

Kosovo declared its independence in 2008. However, the Belgrade government still does not recognize Kosovo’s status as an independent state. For this reason, Serbia also does not recognize Kosovo car license plates on its territory. Russia also does not recognize Kosovo’s independence – unlike most Western countries, including the United States and Germany.

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