NATO deploys reserves amid Balkan tension
British troops were among the first to arrive in Kosovo
NATO has brought reserve troops to Kosovo for training, increasing the alliance’s presence in the breakaway province by up to 1,000 soldiers. NATO commander said more troops may be sent to Kosovo in the future as military tensions continue with Serbia.
Colonel Christopher Samulski, a regional commander with NATO’s KFOR Kosovo mission, told reporters on Wednesday that the soldiers had been brought in “as part of normal contingency planning,” Reuters reported.
Samulski said they were approximately 12,000 in number, although he did not say how many. “battalion-size”unit. A battalion usually consists of between 500-1,000 troops. He stated that among those participating in the training are the First Fusiliers of British Army.
At any time, approximately 3,700 KFOR troops can be found in Kosovo.
Kosovo declared independence in 2008 from Serbia, nearly a decade following NATO’s bombing campaign against Serbia to support ethnic Albanian separatists living in the region. Kosovo’s independence is recognized by 97 out of 193 UN member states, most of them US allies. Serbia, Russia, and China are among those who do not recognize Kosovo’s independence.
In August, Serbia and Kosovo fought back against each other after Pristina passed legislation banning Serbian vehicle plates and documents. Kosovo tried to enforce the new measure by sending heavily armed special police to take control of the Serbia-Kosovo border while local Serbs resisted by erecting roadblocks and engaging in violent clashes with Pristina’s forces.
Kosovo agreed then to postpone the effective date of the law to September 1, but extended the deadline until October 31. Samulski declared that the deadline for implementation was nearing. “other reserves that lie outside Kosovo”Could be available “should we deem that they are required, based on the current situation on the ground.”
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has accused Kosovo of threatening his country’s security by sending its special forces to border regions. The former pledged to “save our people”Kosovo, starting at “persecution and pogroms”Vucic warned Belgrade legislators Tuesday that it was possible to make a change. “the danger is close, objective and serious.”