Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs of the US James O'Brien and Serbia's President Aleksandar Vucic attend the leadership meeting dedicated to the Growth Plan for the Western Balkans in Skopje, Republic of North Macedonia, 22 January 2024. EPA-EFE/GEORGI LICOVSKI

US Warns Serbia of Military Moves Near Kosovo Border

A senior State Department official said on Friday that the United States is tracking Serbia’s military movements near the Kosovo border, and that any use of force against Kosovo “would be unacceptable”.

Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs James O’Brien said on Friday that the United States has made it clear to Serbia that any use of force against Kosovo would be unacceptable, and that  the US is tracking Serbia’s military movements along its border with Kosovo.

“In Serbia, President Vucic knows well that any use of force against Kosovo would be unacceptable. That would be regarded as putting in danger the NATO troops who are there in order to protect the population, whether ethnically Serb or Albanian,” O’Brien told journalists in an online briefing.

“He (Vucic) has said that there will be no use of force. These exercises, yes, we are tracking them, but the key point here is that both sides need to reduce the tensions around the region and that involves actions that are directly related to the exercises,” he added.

The State Department official’s statement came one day after Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti posted a video  on ‘X’ (formerly Twitter) allegedly showing Serbian military units near the northern Kosovo border area.

Kurti expressed that the situation is being closely monitored in order to detect any attempt to cross into Kosovo’s territory.

“Days ago, Serbia’s president issued an open threat: They are waiting for the best possible opportunity to invade Kosovo. Today, Serbian Army units have been detected just meters away from our border”, Kurti wrote.

However, the head of the Commission for the Implementation of the Military Technical Agreement, Zoran Jovanovic, said that this was part of a disinformation campaign against the Serbian Armed Forces and the security forces of the Republic of Serbia.

“The falsehoods and disinformation, which have proven to be outright lies many times before, are part of a bigger campaign led by the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government in Priština aiming to cause greater tensions, deceive the public, create intolerable living conditions for Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija, and avoid fulfilling the internationally recognized obligations”, Jovanovic’s statement read. 

A similar situation occurred in late September 2023, when Kosovo called on Serbia to withdraw troops from its border region, vowing it was ready to protect its territorial integrity. The White House then urged Serbia to pull back what it  described as a large military deployment from its border with Kosovo.

During this incident in 2023 Serbian President Vucic denied reports of a military buildup and complained about a “campaign of lies” against Serbia.

These alleged military movements came days after the attack in Banjska on September 24, 2023. One Kosovo Police officer, Afrim Bunjaku, was killed in the firefight in Banjska by a gang of heavily-armed Serbs. 

22/03/2024 - 18:22

22 March 2024 - 18:22

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