by AM

The dispute over the reciprocity of license plates between Serbia and Kosovo could turn into a new armed conflict between Russia’s allies in Belgrade and the NATO-protected government in Pristina within a few hours, writes the German media Bild , reports “Bota sot”.

On Sunday evening, Serbia put part of its army on alert.

Reason for tensions: Since mid-September, Serb visitors to the border with Kosovo have had to exchange their license plates with temporary Kosovo license plates in order to travel to Kosovo.

The government in Pristina reacted with the regulation to the fact that Serbia, for its part, does not recognize the license plates introduced by Kosovo after the declaration of independence in 2008.

But Serbs from Kosovo are refusing to change their license plates. As a result, the Kosovo government sent a special police unit to the Jarinje and Brnjak border crossings a week ago to enforce license plate regulations.

Kosovo Serbs are blocking the two most important roads to Mitrovica, the largest Serb minority town in Kosovo.

The Serbian army has been moving tanks on the border with Kosovo for several days, talking about a “provocation” from Kosovo, to which they will react. Yesterday, Russian MiG-29 fighter jets flew outside the border and under the cheers of Serbs from Kosovo.

In the evening, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic announced that his country would “fight for our people” to end the “riots against Serbs” in Kosovo. Vucic literally: “If we do not fight, we can not achieve anything.” , transmits “Bota sot”.

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Aleksandar Vucic

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That is why he personally summoned NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and gave the military alliance an ultimatum on Sunday evening to end the “riots” against his compatriots in Kosovo.

Experts also see an active role of Russia in this conflict. The Kremlin does not recognize Kosovo as a country and continues to see it as part of Serbia. “Serbia is a close ally of Russia. Not only militarily, but also economically and by the shared identity built,” Russian expert Jakub Janda of the European Center for Security Policy Values ​​in Prague told BILD . .

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Aleksandar Vucic and Vladimir Putin

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Janda warns: “What we are currently seeing is an escalation against Kosovo, in which Serbia and President Vucic are stepping up their political actions. Without Russia’s diplomatic and military defense shield, this would not have been possible. “Russia wants the Western Balkans to be destabilized, and I see the Kremlin sharing responsibility for the current tensions in Kosovo.”

NATO is increasing patrols

The NATO peacekeeping mission KFOR responded to threats from Serbia on Monday. “The number and duration of routine patrols throughout Kosovo, including northern Kosovo, has increased,” an Alliance spokesman told BILD.

KFOR is  monitoring the situation throughout Kosovo closely and continues to focus on the day-to-day implementation of its mandate – derived from United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 of 1999 – to ensure a secure environment and freedom. of the movement for all communities living in Kosovo ”.

On Sunday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg spoke with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti about “the need to escalate the situation in northern Kosovo”.

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NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg

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Despite this, Serbia deployed more military units on the border with Kosovo on Monday. Mine-resistant vehicles and armored personnel carriers were positioned just three kilometers from the Jarinje border crossing, as BILD was able to confirm. / BS

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