Serbian army on high alert after tensions in Kosovo
Serbian army soldiers near the border with Kosovo, where tension is high. (Archives)
The Serbian army said it placed its troops on heightened alert on Monday evening, a situation that underscores recent tensions in neighboring Kosovo where shots and explosions took place and where roadblocks were erected.
The President of Serbia […] ordered the Serbian army to be at the highest level of combat readiness, that is, at the level of the use of force army, Serbian Defense Minister Milos Vucevic said in a statement. Aleksandar Vucic on the border with Kosovo.
The situation there is complicated, the chief of staff told Pink television on Sunday evening, en route to Raska, ten kilometers from the border with Kosovo.
He added that it required the presence of the Serbian army along the administrative line, a term used by the Serbian authorities to designate the border with Kosovo.
And the Serbian Interior Ministry has indicated that all units will immediately come under the command of the Chief of the General Staff.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic
Finally, the Minister of Defense clarified that the Head of State ordered to reinforce the Serbian military presence by 1500 soldiers, to the 5000 soldiers already in place.
Serbia does not recognize the independence of its former southern province, populated overwhelmingly by Albanians, which it proclaimed in 2008. It encourages the 120,000 Serbs in Kosovo to challenge the local authorities, at the when Pristina wants to assert its sovereignty over the whole territory.
Several hundred Kosovo Serbs have erected roadblocks in northern Kosovo since December 10 to protest against the arrest of a former Serbian policeman, paralyzing traffic to two border crossings with Serbia.
Shortly before General Mojsilovic's departure for the border area, several Serbian media posted a video on social networks, in which gunshots can be heard, claiming that he was x27; was about fighting that occurred in the early evening when Kosovar forces tried to dismantle a barricade.
This information was immediately denied by the Kosovo police who claimed on their Facebook page that their members had not participated in any exchange of fire.
The media in Pristina claimed on the other hand that a patrol of the Kosovo Peacekeeping Force (Kfor), a NATO mission, was in the firing zone.
NATO soldiers patrol near the border between Kfor and Serbia. (Archives)
Kosovar Interior Minister Xhelal Svecla claimed that the Kfor patrol had been attacked.
For its part, Kfor announced that it was investigating shootings on December 25, near a patrol of the NATO mission in Kosovo.
There were no injuries or material damage, Kfor said in a statement.
In early November, hundreds of Serbian police integrated Kosovo police, as well as judges, prosecutors and other officials quit their posts en masse, in protest at a decision – now suspended by the government in Pristina – to ban Serbs living in Kosovo from using license plates issued by Serbia.
The situation with Kosovo is on the verge of armed conflict, Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said last week.