Russia's Ambassador to Belgrade has warned that ethnic Albanian authorities are targeting Serbs with the support of the West
The authorities in Pristina have brought the situation in Kosovo to the brink of war, Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said on Friday. Belgrade has announced it will seek a return of its security forces to the breakaway province, claiming the NATO-led peacekeeping force is failing in its task.
Serbia has the right to deploy up to 1,000 of its security personnel in the province under the provisions of the UN Security Council Resolution 1244, Brnabic said, because "KFOR is not fulfilling its obligations and Serbs in Kosovo-Metohija don't feel safe."
Brnabic pointed to multiple incidents this week, including KFOR and the ethnic Albanian police raiding a kindergarten in Leposavic, and said the Kosovo government led by Albin Kurti is violating the Kumanovo and Brussels agreements every day - referring to the 1999 armistice and the 2013 technical deal, respectively.
In addition to the kindergarten raid, ethnic Albanian authorities destroyed the entire stock of a Serb family winery in Velika Hoca and "literally occupied the entire city" of Kosovska Mitrovica with hundreds of heavily armed special police, Petar Petkovic, the Serbian government's commissioner for Kosovo, said on on Thursday.
Petkovic also warned "those in the West whose job is to keep Kurti in line" that President Aleksandar Vucic was entirely serious when he said Serbia will not allow another pogrom in the province.
Russian ambassador in Belgrade, Alexander Botsan-Kharchenko, said that Pristina's actions amounted to a "campaign of intimidation and oppression of the Serbs" aiming to seize control of the Serb-majority counties "with forbearance and even support from the West."
"Of course the West doesn't care for implementing the agreements they mediated," added Botsan-Kharchenko. "What matters to them is buying time for the side they support."
According to Kosovo police, the Mitrovica deployment was preventive and part of "necessary, reasonable and lawful measures to enforce the law and decisions of Kosovo state bodies." Pristina added that it is "entitled to control the security situation and enforce the law in the entire country."
Meanwhile, the breakaway province's president Vjosa Osmani said Serbian police will "never" return to Kosovo, calling Belgrade's statements "Serbian hegemonic dreams" and "an open threat of aggression," according to RT Balkans.
NATO troops took control of Kosovo in 1999, after bombing Serbia for 78 days. The ethnic Albanian provisional government declared independence in 2008, which Belgrade has refused to recognize.