Status: 30.09.2023, 21:15 p.m.
Kosovo police raid a restaurant and a building in the northern part of the city of Mitrovica. © Radul Radovanovic/AP
The ongoing conflict between Serbia and Kosovo does not allow the Balkans to come to rest. Taunts are the order of the day, but it doesn't seem to stop there. Nevertheless, Belgrade denies any bad intentions.
Belgrade - The conflict between Serbia and Kosovo is taking on threatening proportions, with Pristina accusing Belgrade of advancing with military forces in the direction of Kosovo "from three different directions".
This emerges from a message from the Kosovar government in the evening, which is also available to the German Press Agency by e-mail. The advance serves "a possible military aggression against the Republic of Kosovo."
Units of the Second Brigade of the Serbian Army had moved from the direction of Raska towards the northern border of Kosovo, units of the Third Brigade from the Nis region towards the northeastern border and units of the Fourth Brigade from the Vranje region towards the eastern border, the government in Pristina wrote.
Serbia on Friday sent military and police to 48 advanced operational bases along the border with Kosovo, in Serbian territory, a few kilometers from the Kosovo border. Serbia had brought anti-aircraft systems and heavy artillery into position. Kosovo, in coordination with international partners, is "more determined than ever to protect territorial integrity," the government's statement said.
Serbia denies military intentions
Serbian President Aleksander Vucic denied any intention to launch a military strike against Kosovo in an interview with the Financial Times. Rather, he will give the order for the withdrawal of Serbian troops, as an escalation in Belgrade's EU aspirations would be "counterproductive". Serbia will not destroy its own long-standing efforts. "Serbia does not want war," he told the paper.
The Federal Foreign Office in Berlin called on the Serbian government in Belgrade to de-escalate. "It is important that Serbia immediately reduces troops on the border," the office wrote on the Internet platform X (formerly Twitter). With its partners, Berlin is "in close contact" with all sides. The political process must be continued "urgently".
U.S. concerned about situation
On Friday, Washington had expressed concern about the Serbian troop build-up on the border with Kosovo. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke on the phone with Vucic, who denied the deployment of strong troops and spoke of "untruths."
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The new tensions were triggered last Sunday by an attack on Kosovo police officers by a 30-strong, heavily armed Serbian commando squad in the village of Banjska near Mitrovica in northern Kosovo. Three Serbian attackers and a Kosovar policeman were killed.
The Kosovo police show seized weapons and military equipment after the battles with the commando squad. © Visar Kryeziu/AP/dpa
Kosovo Serbian leader and businessman Milan Radoicic claimed responsibility for the attack. He claimed to have carried out the action on his own and not to inform any official bodies in Serbia about it. The government in Pristina considers Radoicic to go it alone to be out of the question.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic (archive photo). The U.S. has identified an "unprecedented" deployment of Serbian artillery and tanks on the border with Kosovo. © Darko Vojinovic/AP/dpa
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. Dpa