Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić put armed forces on full combat alert after the incident in the unrecognized Republic of Kosovo. We analyze the causes of what’s happening.

In the morning May 28, the Kosovo police special unit ROSU (Regional Operational Support Unit) came to the territory of four Serb-majority municipalities in northern Kosovo. The outraged residents of Zubin Potok municipality and the northern part of Kosovska Mitrovica city took to the streets. The Serbs attempted to set up barricades to deter Kosovo’s Interior Ministry vehicles. The ROSU forces responded by firing and throwing grenades at civilians.
A pretext for incursion was the intended arrest of the Serbs: 26 policemen and 15 civilians allegedly involved in corruption schemes. According to Belgrade, the real goal of these actions is to leave Kosovska Mitrovica, the largest northern city of the unrecognized republic, without protection of the local police.

Two Serbs were injured, 23 people were detained in the ROSU raid. Besides that, a staff member of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), Russian national Mikhail Krasnoshchekov, was beaten and detained. The UN Mission confirmed this information, and the Russian Embassy in Serbia demanded from the Kosovo authorities the immediate release of the Russian citizen.
At 6:29 AM, the President of Serbia gave an order to put Armed Forces of the country and Special Forces of the Interior Ministry on full combat alert. Earlier, Aleksandar Vučić said that he would not tolerate violence against the Serbs in the autonomous province.

NATO supports the actions of the Kosovo Special Forces. According to Vincenzo Grasso, spokesman for the NATO-led Kosovo Force mission (KFOR), the actions of the Interior Ministry staff are not directed against the Serbs. Grasso insists that a special anti-crime operation is implemented throughout Kosovo and not only in the north of the unrecognized republic. “It (the special operation, – Eds) is not directed against the Serbs, but against people accused of corruption and crime”, he said. In conclusion, Grasso explained that KFOR does not interfere in police operations unless requested.
Rising tension in the northern parts of Kosovo followed Pristina’s increase of import tariffs on Serbian goods by 100%. Heads of Serbian municipalities protested by resignations. The early May 19 elections were won by the Serbian List for Kosovo and Metohija political party, which represented the Serbs’ interests in the province.
After that, on May 27, Hashim Thaci, President of the unrecognized Kosovo, called for national reunification of Albania. The idea of “Great Albania” has long been voiced in Pristina. It assumes that all territories inhabited by ethnic Albanians will be united, which would affect the areas in Greece, Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro.

Belgrade responded indignantly to Kosovo’s desire to establish the Albanian-Serbian border. Aleksandar Vučić declared that there would be no “Great Albania” border across the Kopaonik (mountain range in the south of Serbia). At the same time, the Serbian President noted that in the “coming days or months” violent actions by the Albanians can be expected.
The incident in the north of Kosovo occurred after the Balkan summit in Berlin held on April 29, with participation of the President of France and the Federal Chancellor of Germany. The parties failed to achieve any tangible results at Berlin summit and the next meeting would be held in Paris, on July 1 and 2, as announced by the Serbian President.
It should be recalled that the armed confrontation between Albanian separatists from KLA (Kosovo Liberation Army) and the Serbian Armed Forces led to the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia from March 24 to June 9, 1999. The formal reason for the air strikes was the discovery of a mass burial of Albanians allegedly killed by Serbian troops in the village of Račak. It transpired later that the evidence for Račak massacre was fabricated by Western intelligence services.
In March 2004, Kosovo Albanians staged pogroms and forcefully threw the Serbs out of the province. In February 2008, the Serbian Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija (Kosmet) unilaterally declared independence, which was recognized by the International Court of Justice in 2010. Its sovereignty is not recognized by over 60 countries, including Russia, China, India, Israel, Spain, Greece, Cyprus, Slovakia and Romania.

The most recent news is that the Kosovo police released Mr. Krasnoshchekov, as soon as his RF citizenship became known.
By staging this provocation, the Kosovo authorities pursued two objectives:

  1. To identify the level of approval (or rather indifference) displayed by the EU and NATO to the Balkans conflict.
  2. To test the strength of Serbia’s defense capacity and the political will of President Vučić.

Both came successful: NATO openly backed Kosovo, while Vučić announced intentions to fight back through military means. Escalation can occur at any time, because the ethnic conflict on the border has not been resolved since the bombing of Yugoslavia. The only factor to spoil the action scenario is the detention of Russian member of the UN mission. So, the impending conflict could be prevented if international organizations are involved in the watch over the situation and the countries opposing Kosovo recognition are included in the process.