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HomePolitics newsSerbian army shifts to ‘combat readiness’ amid growing Kosovo tensions – POLITICO

Serbian army shifts to ‘combat readiness’ amid growing Kosovo tensions – POLITICO

The Serbian army has been placed at its “highest level of combat readiness” the country’s Defense Minister Miloš Vučević announced Monday night, in a sign of escalating tensions between Serbia and Kosovo.

The announcement follows unverified claims from Serbian state media that Kosovar police forces opened fire while trying to tear down a barricade erected by ethnic Serbs in northern Kosovo. Authorities in Kosovo denied the incident took place.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić said he will “take all measures to protect our people and preserve Serbia.”

The NATO-led peacekeeping Kosovo Force (KFOR) said that gunshots were fired near patrolling NATO troops in Northern Kosovo in another incident Sunday. It is not clear where the shots came from, and no injury was reported, KFOR said.

The broader conflict dates back to a war in the late 1990s, after which Kosovo declared its independence in 2008. Serbia does not recognize the sovereignty of its former province. Pristina and Belgrade have been attempting to negotiate over technical issues through an EU-led dialogue since 2011. Many of the 120,000 ethnic Serbs in Kosovo defy Pristina’s authority and a dispute over license plates sparked new protests in recent months.

Kosovo’s security council blamed Serbia for the rising tensions Monday, accusing Belgrade of “acting with all available means against the constitutional order of the Republic of Kosovo.”

It is, however, not the first time that the Serbian army has been put on “high combat alert” over growing tensions in recent months. The last time was in November when several drones allegedly entered Serbian airspace from Kosovo.

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