In Kosovo on the evening of July 31, another aggravation of the conflict between the leadership of the partially recognized republic and the Serbian community took place. Shots and sirens are heard in the border areas all evening, Kosovo special forces have left for the border. What’s going on in Kosovo in the RTVI material.
In the evening in the areas of Kosovo, where Serbs live, resounded sirens. Residents of North Mitrovica began to gather in the city center. Albanians took to the streets en masse in the southern part of the city. The Serbs began to build barricades.
Kosovo Serbs do not agree with the new rules introduced by official Pristina. At midnight on August 1, the Kosovo authorities close entry to citizens with documents issued by Serbia. Also from August, it is planned to re-register all cars for Kosovo numbers.
Serbian MP Vladimir Djukanovic wrote on Twitter a few hours before the escalation of the situation that “Serbia will be forced to start denazification of the Balkans.”
After the start of the clashes, Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti sent armed special forces to the Yarinje border crossing. The Kosovo police have closed the Brnjak crossing, and at the Rudnica crossing only vehicles with Kosovo license plates are allowed to pass. The NATO-led International Security Forces in Kosovo (KFOR) have been deployed to the bridge across the Ibar River in Kosovska Mitrovica, a city in northern Kosovo and Metohija, Kosovo Online reports. Serbian channel Kurir published footage showing gunfire near the Brnjak checkpoint.
According to the Serbian newspaper Vecherniye Novosti, the Kosovo Police Special Forces (ROSU) have moved from Pristina to the north of Kosovo and Metohija, where the Serbs are protesting. They headed towards the northern part of the region in full gear and with water cannons, and several ambulances were also with them. Edition clarifiedthat in the city of Slatina between Yarin and Leposachiv, where people erected barricades, one person was injured, he was hospitalized.
At the same time, the Serbian army has not yet entered the territory of Kosovo and Metohija, Vecherniye Novosti reports with reference to the Serbian Ministry of Defense. At the same time, Serb protesters opened fire on the Kosovo police, the Kosovo security forces reported on social media. “In some places, part of the shots were directed at police units, but, fortunately, there were no casualties,” the Kosovo police said.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić arrived at the General Staff, write “Evening News”.
Reaction of Serbia and Russia
Earlier in the day, Vučić said the Kosovo government was “imposing [сербам] things to which it has no right.” According to Vučić, the situation for Serbs in Kosovo is “very difficult” and “Serbia has never been in a more difficult situation than today.”
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia, in turn, urged the Republic of Kosovo, as well as the United States and the EU “behind it”, to respect the rights of the Serbs in the republic. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that “the decision of the ‘authorities’ in Pristina to start applying unreasonable discriminatory ‘rules’ on the forced replacement of personal documents and registration numbers of local Serbs from August 1” leads to “the expulsion of the Serb population from Kosovo.”
“Kosovar leaders know that the Serbs will not remain indifferent when it comes to a direct attack on their freedoms, and they deliberately escalate in order to launch a military scenario. Of course, Belgrade is also at the forefront of the attack, which the West wants to additionally “neutralize” with Kosovo Albanian hands”
The Prime Minister of the partially recognized Kosovo, Albin Kurti, said on his social networks that the coming days will be difficult and problematic, as the republic is facing “Serbian chauvinism.” kurti quotes Kosovo online.
“Them [беспорядкам в Косово] preceded by statements, meetings and gatherings in Belgrade <…> These aggressive actions that are taking place today were planned and encouraged there. Responsible for the riots [президент Сербии Александр] Vucic and [глава Канцелярии по Косову и Метохии при кабмине Сербии Петар] Petkovic”
Conflict over Kosovo
In 2008, the Republic of Kosovo, which at that time had the status of an autonomous region within Serbia, declared independence. Kosovo’s sovereignty has been recognized by 22 of the 27 EU countries, as well as by the United States and Great Britain. At the same time, according to the Constitution of Serbia, Kosovo is still part of it. In addition, Kosovo still did not join the UN due to the veto of China and Russia. Although there are no regular hostilities in Kosovo, Belgrade and Pristina have not yet reached a peace agreement. This also prevents them from joining the European Union. Serbia already has the formal status of a candidate for EU membership, Kosovo is on the list of potential candidates.
In recent years, the contradictions between Serbia and Kosovo have regularly escalated. In the fall of 2021, the Serbian authorities accused Kosovo of provocations and put part of the military forces on alert. Belgrade accused Pristina of sending military units to the border, as well as of trying to harass the Serbian population by banning cars with Serbian numbers from entering Kosovo.
In May 2019, Serbia also put its troops on full alert. Then, Alexander Vučić named the oppression of ethnic Serbs living in the Kosovo-Mitrovitsky district as the reason. As the head of state noted, police raids were carried out on this territory in order to intimidate the population. The authorities of the partially recognized republic claimed that the purpose of the raids was to fight organized crime.