How West Changed Its Strategy on Kosovo to Counter Serbia's Aggressive Plans

Wednesday, 17 January 2024

Serbia's President Aleksandar Vučić has labeled the US decision to sell anti-tank Javelin missiles to the partially recognised Kosovo as a 'great disappointment for Serbia.'

Vučić has reacted to these actions, including the announcement of the reintroduction of compulsory military service in the country.

Whether the military standoff could lead to a new war between Serbia and Kosovo and why the West has suddenly changed its mind and is no longer against Kosovo creating its own army, you can read in the article by Yurii Panchenko, EuroPravda's editor – Ukrainian scenario for Kosovo: How US prepares its ally to deter Serbian army.

The end of Kosovo demilitarisation.

"It is important to note that Article 9 of Resolution 1244 (a resolution on demilitarisation of Kosovo and deployment of international peacekeeping forces there) envisions the demilitarisation of the KLA and other armed groups of Kosovo Albanians. According to the Resolution, there should be no armed groups of Albanians, and yet they have created an army. And they continue to build it," Vučić stated on 13 January during his visit to the Operational Center of the Military Security Agency.

He has also mentioned that Kosovo already has a total of 223 armoured vehicles along with the so-called Kosovo Police.

He acknowledges that it is not about tanks or infantry fighting vehicles but only lightly armoured vehicles for transporting infantry units. Their number, however, is constantly growing, as the Kosovo authorities are preparing to receive new military equipment.

"They want to increase the number of armoured vehicles to 350 units. They want to have 5,500 professional military personnel and 20,000 in the first reserve by 2027. These are their plans. There are no surprises for us here," Vučić concludes.

In addition to the United States, the Serbian president accuses Türkiye and Croatia of militarising Kosovo. While Türkiye has been supplying Bayraktar TB2 drones since mid 2023 (there are reports of five devices), Croatia joined Kosovo's arming only recently.

Last week it became known that Croatia had sent a large batch of HS Produkt VHS-D2 CT assault rifles. In Kosovo, they claim that they will arm with them police units on duty in the northern part of the country, where ethnic Serbs live.

Of course, in Serbia, all this is perceived as NATO's consent to the 'destruction of Serbian presence' in Kosovo.

Croatia's actions look clearly coordinated and synchronised with the United States. It means that the West has changed its strategy on Kosovo.

What could have changed the West's position, primarily the United States?

Most likely, decisive was the armed conflict in northern Kosovo in September 2023 when unknown assailants attacked the police inspecting the northern region, populated by ethnic Serbs, near the border with Serbia.

After that, the United States finally began discussing the sale of Javelin missiles and related equipment to Kosovo for about $75 million. This includes the sale of 246 Javelin FGM-148F missiles, 24 launchers for them, as well as simulators, dummy shells, and accompanying technical materials and spare parts.

In the event of the withdrawal of KFOR peacekeepers (which is not yet the case), the Kosovo army, even if brought to the planned strength, is unlikely to be able to stop Serbia.

However, thanks to the received equipment, Kosovo will be able to inflict extremely painful losses on Serbia, which should deter Belgrade from aggression.

Serbia will face a sharp increase in pressure from the West to recognise Kosovo in the coming months.

The West is concerned about the risks of the Western Balkans sliding into a full-scale war, actively assisted by both Russia and Serbia.

In response, the Serbian government is taking steps aimed at both de-escalating and exacerbating the crisis.

We cannot rule out that Serbia's actions to destabilise the Balkans will force the EU to act more harshly and consistently than Vučić expects.

And most importantly, it does not take into account possible pressure from the United States.

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