A crisis with the potential consequence of ethnic cleaning is seemingly being welcomed in Eastern Europe by several NATO countries, as NATO-trained ethnic Albanian military police in Kosovo attempt to impose a kind of martial law on ethnic Serbs in the north of that breakaway province of Serbia.
Astonishingly little media coverage is being spared for what could be a second war in Europe in the same year as the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, the first war in Europe since 1999. The US, whose diplomats have been extremely active in the rising tensions, haven’t released a single statement of position, and the State Dept. hasn’t faced a single question about it in any December press briefings.
Ethnic Serbs in the north of the region called Kosovo have “been at the barricades” for almost three weeks Balkans news outlets are reporting. “At the barricades” is shorthand in the region for blocking border crossings and roads, usually with vehicles.
The Serbian President Aleksandr Vuvic has claimed, and news is reporting, that he has received an ultimatum from the US, Great Britain, Germany, Italy, and France ordering him to dismantle the barricades or they will green-light the de-facto strongman leader of Kosovo, Albin Kurti, to use NATO-trained and equipped ethnic Albanian soldiers to do so in his place.
The day after Christmas Vuvic placed the Serbian armed forces on “the highest level of action carried out by the Serbian Army,” in response to threats from Kurti to “attack” the barricades with 1,500 soldiers if the current NATO peacekeeping force, called “KFOR,” does not. KFOR is currently calling for de-escalation.
The US special representative for the Western Balkans, Gabriel Escobar, said at the beginning of the tensions that the US categorically opposes the return of Serbian forces to the north of Kosovo and Metohija, despite their right to do so under UN Security Council Res. 1244 which allows them to enter Kosovo militarily to protect ethnic Serbs.
In mid-DecemberWaL reported on the players and background of a conflict that wasn’t truly ended but rather put on ice at the tail end of the Balkans Wars during the Clinton Administration. The details, altered by years of subsequent journalism, are almost entirely unknown to most people, but the events still trigger racially-motivated outbursts as recently as the 2022 World Cup match between Serbia and Switzerland when a Kosovo-born Swiss player scored and taunted the Serbian fans.