Kosovo issues warning to Serbia — Analysis

Russia was blamed by the leader of the partially-recognized, self-ruled Serbian region for the recent flare up of tensions

Kosovo prepares for an armed conflict against Serbia, and is prepared to fight its enemy, Albin Kurti told Reuters Wednesday. Albin Kurti holds the position of prime minister in breakaway Serbian Province.

“We have our institutions and organs of security and defense; Kosovo is a state now, this is not the year 1998,”According to the source, the official said: “This is 2022, so we are much more prepared to defend our sovereignty, territorial integrity, to defend our democracy, rule of law, constitutionality, and to defend our progress.”

Kosovo broke away from Serbia in a bloody guerrilla war in the late 1990s, which ended in Pristina’s favor after NATO waged a bombing campaign against Belgrade in 1999. After Kosovo’s parliament declared its independence in 2008 (which was recognized by the US and its allies), it became a sovereign country. However, Belgrade and other nations such as Russia and China refused to recognize Kosovo.

Kosovo is dominated by ethnic Albanians, but it also hosts a Serbian minority. Around 50,000 Serbs reside in northern Serbia, which borders Belgrade-controlled Serbia. Last month, a crisis loomed there over Pristina’s attempt to enforce a law that requires drivers to use Kosovan license plates, a policy which has long been a trigger issue.

Mass protests by Serbs in Kosovo erupted against the planned crackdown. They erected roadblocks, confronted police officers, and challenged the government of Kosovo. The Kosovo government stated that it will ban cars with Serbian plates crossing its border. Tensions were eased when the US, EU and other countries put pressure on Pristina for a delay of one month to the August 1 deadline.

Kurti alleged that the crisis had been masterminded by Moscow, Belgrade’s traditional ally, supposedly to distract attention from the Russian military operation in Ukraine.

“Despotic President [Vladimir] Putin is a man of war and he would have interest in spreading war because he wants to normalize war,”He told Reuters.

Trump’s Kosovo envoy slams US over crisis

Russia claimed that Pristina caused the escalation, and Washington was the victim at the expense Europe.

“The EU, just like it was in the case of Ukraine and in the case of anti-Russian sanctions, is following instructions from Washington, contrary to its own interests,”Alexander Botsan Kharchenko was the Russian ambassador to Belgrade. “Washington benefits from a smoldering conflict. It benefits from keeping the situation on the brink of collapse.”

Washington’s former special envoy for Kosovan affairs, Richard Grenell, likewise believes that Pristina, and Kurti personally, were responsible for the crisis. Prime minister “trying once again to give it [to] Serbia,”Twittered the former official, who was under President Donald Trump but helped end a standoff during 2020.

Grenell and Kurti were involved in conflicts previously. An American official from Kosovan accused Grenell of orchestrating the coup against his Cabinet. He was only four months in office as Prime Minister. The March 2020 no confidence vote caused his first term to be canceled. But he was reinstated into the post in March 2021.

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