Russia is expanding its strategic interests beyond Ukraine, with a particular focus on Southern Europe. Serbia, a nation known for its pro-Russian stance, has been a key player in this development. Following the invasion of Ukraine, Serbia witnessed significant pro-Russian demonstrations, and approximately 200,000 Russians have relocated to Serbia to evade potential military conscription.
Currently, Russia is directing its attention towards Kosovo, a region not acknowledged as an independent state by the Putin regime or Serbia. This shift comes in the wake of a recent incident in which about 30 armed Serbs raided the village of Banjska in northern Kosovo, resulting in an exchange of gunfire with local police forces.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov characterized the situation as “extremely complex.” He pointed out the historically biased treatment of Serbs in Kosovo, underscoring the heightened tension in the area. Following the deadly police confrontation, the assailants sought refuge in a monastery, requiring the intervention of armored police units to retake the facility.
In response to these developments, the United States has urged both Kosovo and Serbia to de-escalate tensions. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken emphasized the need for both governments to refrain from actions or statements that could further inflame the already precarious situation.
It’s worth noting that Kosovo, formerly a province of Serbia, has gained recognition as an independent nation from 116 countries, including Sweden. The majority of its 1.8 million population consists of Albanians, but around 50,000 Serbs in northern Kosovo have never accepted the 2008 declaration of independence and still consider Belgrade as their capital.