Russia stoking tensions between Serbia and Kosovo to divert attention from Ukraine, Pristina says – Reuters
The Kremlin is stoking tensions between Serbia and Kosovo to deflect attention from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Kosovo’s First Deputy Prime Minister Besnik Bislimi told a British radio program on Wednesday.
“There is a tendency for Russia to distract or distract from Ukraine by opening up areas of a new country,” Bislimi told Times Radio.
Tensions between Serbia and Kosovo – a former Serbian province that declared independence in 2008, which Belgrade does not recognize – have escalated in the past week. On Monday, Serbian Defense Minister Miloš Vučević announced that the country’s military had been placed at its « highest level of combat readiness » following unverified reports that Kosovar police forces had opened fire on ethnic Serbs in northern Kosovo. (Kosovo authorities have denied the incident took place.) Moscow, a close ally of Serbia, said Wednesday it « supports[ed] Belgrade in the actions that are being taken.
Bislimi told Times Radio on Wednesday: “There is recorded evidence that members of the paramilitaries are supported by the Humanitarian Center, a Russian center. So I don’t think anyone is denying Russia’s presence and Russia’s influence.
« And if you want more details, to understand how easily Russia can use it for conflicts, the recent attacks by these troops in Kosovo, started during the night, most likely very drunk people inside the barricades because they are supplied with a lot of alcohol, financial incentives, and all that from the Humanitarian Center.
Earlier on Wednesday, the EU and the United States called in a joint statement for « maximum restraint », saying that Pristina and Belgrade should « refrain from any provocation, threat or intimidation » in the face of rising tensions.