Serbia Denies Military Buildup on Kosovo Border Amidst Rising Tensions: President Criticizes ‘Campaign of Lies’
Serbia Denies Reports of Military Buildup Along Kosovo Border
Serbia has denied recent reports of a military buildup along its border with Kosovo, following a deadly exchange of fire last week. This comes after both the United States and the European Union expressed concern about the increased military deployment and urged Serbia to reduce its forces in the region.
Kosovo Calls for Withdrawal
The Kosovo government has announced that it is closely monitoring the movements of the Serbian army from multiple directions. They have called for Serbia to immediately withdraw its forces and demilitarize the border area.
Serbian President Denounces “Campaign of Lies”
President Aleksandar Vucic responded to the allegations in an Instagram video, accusing the international community of launching a “campaign of lies” against Serbia. He stated that the reports were false and that Serbia possesses advanced weapons, which has caused concern among other nations.
Reduced Military Presence
Reporters from the Associated Press have observed several Serbian Army transport vehicles heading toward central Serbia, indicating a potential reduction in military presence after calls from US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and others.
Tensions Rise after Violent Clash
Tensions escalated following a violent clash in northern Kosovo involving heavily armed Serb militants and Kosovo police officers. This clash, one of the worst since Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, prompted NATO to announce plans to strengthen its peacekeeping force in the country.
Denial of Allegations
Serbia has denied allegations from Kosovo that it trained a group of individuals who opened fire on police officers and took refuge in an Orthodox Christian monastery. Three rebels were killed in the ensuing exchange of fire.
Possible Russian Involvement
Kosovo is investigating possible Russian involvement in the violence. Serbia’s close alliance with Russia raises concerns in the West that Moscow may attempt to stir up unrest in the Balkans to divert attention from the conflict in Ukraine.
US Monitoring Serbian Deployment
The United States has been monitoring a large deployment of Serbian forces along the border with Kosovo. US officials have described it as an “unprecedented deployment” of advanced artillery and infantry units.
Serbia’s Defense Efforts
President Vucic has previously raised the combat readiness of Serbian forces on the border with Kosovo and has been acquiring weapons and equipment from Russia and China to strengthen the military. Despite these efforts, he insists that Serbia desires peace.
Background and Failed Negotiations
The recent shooting near the village of Banjska occurred after months of tensions in northern Kosovo, where the majority of the population is Serbian and demands autonomy. Efforts to normalize relations between Serbia and Kosovo have failed, with a preliminary agreement remaining unimplemented.