In 1938 British dramatist Patrick Hamilton wrote a play called «Gas Light». This is a story about a husband who wishes to make his wife question her own sanity. The hero changed the location of items in the house, hid things, left the house without warning, and secretly went to an empty apartment upstairs. While he was absent, his wife was losing her mind because she heard strange noises in the house and saw the lights dim in their rooms. The husband calmly assured her that everything was fine and the noise and the fading lamps were a figment of her imagination. In fact, the lighting changed because he turned on the gaslight in another part of the house, where he was looking for hidden jewels.

The play gave rise to the word “gaslighting”, meaning psychological manipulation in order to make the victim doubt their objective perception of reality. The reaction of the Western community to the recent events in Kosovo is a good illustration of this term.

On May 28, at 6 AM, the Kosovo police special unit ROSU organized an invasion to the north of the region under the pretext of crime prevention. The Western centres of power did not react to such an action, as if there was no reason for Serbian leader Alexandar Vucic to put the Army and the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Serbia on alert. The reaction of KFOR (Kosovo Force), an international contingent led by NATO, which has been responsible for ensuring stability in Kosovo for 20 years, was even worse. The organization said that it supported the “action to combat organized crime.”

Addressing the Parliament, Serbian President Alexandar Vucic said that the Hungarian contingent KFOR tried to prevent the ROSU operation, but was called off by the commander. The EU, according to the Serbian President, urged Serbia to “calm down” because it is an “anti-corruption operation.” The leaders of Germany, France, Great Britain, Italy, and the US remained silent. The only thing that the EU has done was “scolding” Pristina for the abuse of force in Zubin Potok and saying that “the operation of the Kosovo police should be carried out in accordance with the law.”

“Preserving the rule of law, including the presumption of innocence, is a goal which the EU strongly supports. Police operations must ensure respect for the law in all communities. They should strengthen, not weaken efforts to normalize relations,” said EU spokesperson Maja Kocijancic.

According to Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic, only members of the Visegrad group and representatives of the Western Balkans in the EU expressed their concern about the events in Kosovo, in particular, it was done by Angelina Eichhorst, Director for Western Europe, the Western Balkans and Turkey in the European External Action Service.

It appears that, according to the logic of the overwhelming number of European political “heavyweights”, ROSU conducts a routine operation to restore order in the province of Kosovo and Metohija. At the same time, Europe pretends not to notice the context of the agenda: 100% duties imposed on the import of Serbian goods, the attempt of the Kosovo “Parliament” to legalize the Serbian genocide against Albanians, the statements of the Kosovo authorities saying they have no intention to establish a dialogue with Belgrade and also want to annex the southern regions of Serbia. Dark clouds are settling over Serbia just like over the poor heroine of the British play.

However, the “shimmering of the gas lamp” was noticed not only in Belgrade but also in Moscow, which obviously condemned the actions of Pristina. In particular, spokeswoman for Russia’s foreign ministry Maria Zakharova said, “We regard the invasion of Kosovo-Albanian special forces in Serb-populated municipalities in the North of the region as another provocation by Pristina aimed at scaring and pressuring the non-Albanian population and acquiring control over these areas by force”

«It is crystal clear that such provocative behavior of Kosovars is directly related to the fact that the EU and the US have been pandering to them for years. The Kosovar politicians have already get used to getting away with all the provocations,» concluded the Russian diplomat. It should be noted that the Kosovo “police” made a big mistake during their armed raid by detaining and beating up two representatives of the UN mission in Kosovo – a Serb and a Russian, Mikhail Krasnoshchekov, who is under medical supervision in Kosovo Mitrovica in critical condition. Russian Senator Konstantin Kosachev has already said that our country will seek punishment for those who illegally arrested a Russian citizen. Thus, there is hope that the ROSU provocation will not disappear from the agenda too quickly.

Analyzing the actions of the Kosovo Albanians, it is evident that they, apparently, decided to reject the option of a compromise settlement in the dialogue with Belgrade. Earlier there were suggestions about a possible exchange of territories.

Alexandar Vucic and Hashim Thaci announced the possible changing of the boarders on August 25, 2018, at the European Forum Alpbach in Austria. They claimed that they plan to reach a mutually beneficial agreement as soon as possible.

They did not present concrete options for territorial changes of Serbia and Kosovo, however, the revision of the borders was supposed to affect several municipalities dominated by Serbs, which are part of Kosovo. In turn, Pristina could’ve claimed Serbian municipalities, where Albanians make up a large proportion of the population.

Later, this plan was blocked: in particular, German Chancellor Angela Merkel considered it dangerous because such a policy will trigger a trend of boarder revision in Europe. The public in Serbia and Kosovo had mixed feelings about the possible secession of lands. However, the Kosovo leadership has clung to Serbia’s words on handing Preševo, Bujanovac, and Medveđa over to the Kosovars, taken out of context, and, encouraged by the “support group” in the person of Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, is now spreading ideas on the unification of Albanian territories as part of “Greater Albania”, which Western actors also seem not to notice.

How far will the Kosovo authorities go in their provocations against Serbia? What should they do so that the European community stopped pretending that everything is done within the rule of law? How long will the gaslighting last? And is it true that all Serbia can do is wait until the leaders of the self-proclaimed Republic completely discredit themselves in the eyes of Europe and the US? Unfortunately, only time will tell what other actions of Kosovo will be regarded as acceptable behaviour and how long one can switch between spectrums of the “Overton window” in international politics.