Serbian President Denies Military Buildup on Border with Kosovo

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) – Serbia’s president on Sunday denied U.S. and different reviews of a army buildup alongside the border with Kosovo, complaining of a “campaign of lies” in opposition to his nation within the wake of a shootout per week earlier that killed 4 individuals and fueled tensions within the risky Balkan area.

Both the United States and the European Union expressed concern earlier this week about what they stated was an elevated army deployment by Serbia’s border with its former province, and so they urged Belgrade to scale down its troop presence there.

Kosovo’s authorities stated Saturday it was monitoring the actions of the Serbian army from “three different directions.” It urged Serbia to instantly pull again its troops and demilitarize the border space.

“A campaign of lies … has been launched against our Serbia,” President Aleksandar Vucic responded in a video put up on Instagram. “They have lied a lot about the presence of our military forces …. In fact, they are bothered that Serbia has what they describe as sophisticated weapons.”

Tensions have soared following the violence in northern Kosovo final Sunday involving closely armed Serb gunmen and Kosovo law enforcement officials. The conflict was one of many worst since Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008 and prompted NATO to announce it could beef up a peacekeeping power stationed within the nation.

Serbia has denied Kosovo’s allegations that it educated the group of some 30 males who opened fireplace on law enforcement officials, leaving one useless, after which barricaded themselves in an Orthodox Christian monastery in northern Kosovo. Three insurgents died within the hours-long shootout that ensued.

Kosovo has additionally stated it was investigating attainable Russian involvement within the violence. Serbia is Russia’s fundamental ally in Europe, and there are fears within the West that Moscow may attempt to stir bother within the Balkans to avert consideration from the struggle in Ukraine.

John Kirby, spokesman for the White House National Security Council, stated Friday that U.S. officers had been monitoring a big deployment of Serbian troops alongside the border with Kosovo, describing it as an “unprecedented staging of advanced Serbian artillery, tanks and mechanized infantry units.”

Vucic has a number of occasions over the previous months raised the fight readiness degree of Serbian troops on the border with Kosovo. Serbia additionally has been reinforcing its troops with weapons and different gear primarily bought from Russia and China.

“We will continue to invest in the defense of our country but Serbia wants peace,” the president stated Sunday. “Everything they said they made up and lied, and they knew they were making up and lying.”

Last weekend’s shootout close to the village of Banjska adopted months of tensions in Kosovo’s north, the place ethnic Serbs are a majority of the inhabitants and have demanded self-rule. Dozens of troopers from the NATO-led peacekeeping power often known as KFOR had been injured in May in a conflict with ethnic Serbs protesting the Kosovo police presence within the space.

Fearing wider instability because the struggle rages in Ukraine, Washington and Brussels have sought to barter a normalization of relations between Serbia and Kosovo, however the two sides have did not implement a tentative settlement that was just lately reached as a part of an EU-mediated dialogue.

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