Russia accuses local authorities of ‘closely monitoring’ tense situation in Kosovo

Kosovo police officers stand guard on the road to the Banjska Monastery following a shooting near Zvecan, Kosovo, on September 25, 2023. REUTERS/Ognen Teofilovski Get license rights

MOSCOW, Sept 25 (Reuters) – The Kremlin said on Monday it was closely monitoring a “potentially dangerous” situation in Kosovo, where ethnic Serb gunmen stormed a village over the weekend, clashed with police and entered a monastery.

Russia does not recognize Kosovo, which has a majority Albanian population, as an independent state and has traditionally supported Serbia, with which it has close religious and cultural ties.

“The situation is very difficult. In Kosovo, we see a traditionally biased attitude towards Serbs… the situation is very tense and dangerous and we are monitoring it very closely,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a regular news conference. .

Kosovar police units recaptured the monastery late Sunday after three attackers and a police officer were killed. They defended the village in northern Kosovo on Monday.

The majority of the 1.8 million population of Kosovo, a former province of Serbia, are ethnic Albanians.

But some 50,000 Serbs in the north never accepted Kosovo’s 2008 declaration of independence and still see Belgrade as their capital after more than two decades of Kosovo Albanian guerrilla insurgency against repressive Serbian rule.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry later issued a statement saying Sunday’s bloodshed was the “direct and immediate result” of Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurdi’s move, which it said was aimed at “inciting conflict and cleansing the territory of the Serbian province.”

The ministry said it was trying to escalate the Kurdish situation to pressure Serbs to recognize Kosovo’s independence.

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Reported by Reuters; By Gareth Jones and Maxim Rodionov; Editing by Mark Trevelyan

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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