This story is developing…
An early morning raid at dawn by Kosovar police special forces into Serbian areas of Kosovska Mitrovica has once again ignited the long dormant Balkan conflict which saw NATO bomb Serbian positions in the 1990s. AP is reporting Serbian armored columns moving towards the border with Kosovo in response. The conflict is a long-simmering consequence of the breakup of the former communist Yugoslavia.
Kosovar authorities declare the raid, which saw 23 Serbs and Bosniaks detained, in addition to one Russian U.N. diplomat, was needed to fight corruption and organized crime in the Serbian area of the city. Russia is a long-term Serbian ally.
Kosovo is confirming 5 police officers and 6 civilians were injured in the raid.
Police chief Rashit Qalaj said that 19 police officers and a number of other people were arrested during Tuesday’s operation that involved special police forces. He said information about evidence that was seized would be released later.
Qalaj said two of the officers sent to carry out the arrests were injured during “armed resistance” by ethnic Serbs in northern Zubin Potok commune, while others were hurt while clearing the road of makeshift barricades, reported Associated Press.
“The reason we arrested them was participation at the barricades,” Qalaj said.
There are reports of Serbian MiG-29s buzzing the border in addition to other Serbian military movements.
Neither Russia nor Serbia recognizes the independence of Kosovo, a former Serbian-controlled region.
Serbian President Aleksander Vucic said, “The [police special forces’] raid began at 05:55 (06:55 Moscow time), with 73 armored vehicles involved in it, 50 are lying in wait in Kosovska Mitrovica. The arrest of 23 Serbs and Bosniaks has been confirmed. The issue at hand is primarily Kosovo police officers,” he said, reported Russian state news agency TASS.
According to Vucic, the plight of the Zubin Potok municipality is the most severe. Serbia’s authorities have video footage showing police shooting live ammunition over the heads of unarmed Serbs. “In Kosovska Mitrovica, they shot at young people who tossed rocks at them,” he said.
Vucic stressed that all troops had been put on full combat alert and that the Serbian people in Kosovo would be protected. “Should the situation escalate, Serbia will emerge victorious,” Vucic concluded, reported TASS.
“The detention took place in defiance of the Russian’s diplomatic immunity of a UN official,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said.
“We regard this outrageous act as another manifestation of provocative policies by the Kosovo Albanians’ top brass.”
“We demand that the UNMIK’s leadership provide exhaustive information regarding the illegal arrest of Mikhail Krasnoshchekov and do its utmost for his immediate release,” Zakharova said.
Russia has long been bitter over the treatment of Serbia by NATO in the decades past. It is highly likely that Kremlin forces are instigating trouble along the border to invite Russian intervention. The push could be a way for Putin to reverse falling approval numbers.
Tsarizm has reported extensively about the Soros agenda in the Balkans to force a territorial swap between Kosovo and Serbia. Albanian President Edi Rama, a Soros protege, has been heavily involved in this process. EU figures like Angela Merkel have warned against the idea as the push could once again ignite conflict.