The United States called on Serbia to withdraw the troops it has amassed on its border with Kosovo, AFP reported.
“We are seeing a large Serbian military presence along the Kosovo border,” including an “unprecedented deployment” of artillery, tanks and infantry units, said White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby. However, he did not want to comment on the risk of a possible invasion of Kosovo, whose independence Serbia does not recognize and where tensions have been very high for several days.
“Due to recent events, KFOR” – the force deployed by NATO in this former Serbian province – “will increase its presence” in its northern part, Kirby stressed. However, he was unable to specify whether this was simply a transfer of KFOR soldiers to Northern Kosovo or a net increase in the number of Alliance forces in the country.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken telephoned Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic today to express concern over the situation and “underline the need for an immediate de-escalation and return to dialogue”. White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, for his part, has spoken with Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti, Kirby reported.
The White House later added in a statement cited by Reuters that Sullivan had expressed concern to Kurti about the deployment of Serbian military units along the border with Kosovo.
The two discussed the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia mediated by the European Union. This “is the only long-term solution for ensuring stability in the whole of Kosovo,” Sullivan stressed.
A Kosovo police officer was killed in an ambush early Sunday morning. Later in the day, police shot dead three people from the group of Serbs who carried out the attack.
This is one of the most serious escalations of tension in Kosovo in recent years, notes AFP.