In an incident on the Serbia-Kosovo border over the weekend of August 6th-7th, a Kosovar police patrol came under fire while deploying a boat on a border lake. Euractiv reports:
Police said their patrol came under fire close to the town of Zubin Potok when they were trying to launch a boat on Gazivoda lake.
The town of Zubin Potok is approximately six kilometers from the border between Kosovo and Serbia. Approximately ten shots were fired, though no casualties were reported.
According to Euractiv, Kosovo’s Interior Minister Xhelal Svecla claimed that “illegal groups” with ties to Serbia were active in the border region.
The shooting is the latest in a series of incidents along the border between Serbia and the breakaway province. The Kosovar government has imposed a license-plate mandate on Serb-registered vehicles, forcing them to temporarily wear tags issued by the government in Pristina. According to some sources, this mandate mirrors a similar mandate on vehicles from Kosovo visiting Serbia.
The license plate controversy recently led to a border blockade by Serbs residing on the Kosovar side of the border. The blockade, in turn, provoked a reinforced commitment from NATO to keeping troops in the region.
The formal status of Kosovo remains disputed:
The province of Kosovo was declared independent in 2008, but has never been formally recognized by the Serbian government in Belgrade. Many countries, even in Europe, still don’t recognize the small Balkan state.
While the Russian government denies the historical validity of an independent Kosovo, the United States is ramping up its commitment to the region with the express purpose of countering Russian influence. From BalkanInsight:
New legislation introduced into the U.S. Senate aims to support economic development in the Western Balkans through initiatives on infrastructure, trade and anti-corruption, including codification of sanctions to deter destabilization activity.
BalkanInsight also quotes Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut, one of the sponsors of the legislative bill:
Maintaining peace in the Balkans is critical to European security, especially as Putin grows more desperate in Ukraine and may turn to other countries for a victory.
Several NGOs, partly with funding from the U.S. government, have an express interest in the Balkans, where they seek to defend “liberal democracy” against “conservatism.”
Sven R. Larson is a political economist and author. He received a Ph.D. in Economics from Roskilde University, Denmark. Originally from Sweden, he lives in America where for the past 16 years he has worked in politics and public policy. He has written several books, including Democracy or Socialism: The Fateful Question for America in 2024.