Russia blames Kosovo govt for 'bloodshed'

AFP , Monday 25 Sep 2023

Russia on Monday blamed the government of Kosovo for a deadly clash between authorities and gunmen near the Serbian border, warning that the "bloodshed" could spiral out of control.

Image taken and released by the government of Kosovo shows an armed individual near trucks blocking a road leading to Banjska monastery occupied by gunmen, in the village of Banjska in northern Kosovo. Gunmen holed up in a northern Kosovo monastery clashed with authorities on September 24, 2023. AFP


"There is no doubt that yesterday's bloodshed is a direct and immediate consequence of the course of the so-called 'Prime Minister' Albin Kurti to incite conflict," the Russian foreign ministry said, warning that attempts to escalate the situation could bring "the entire Balkan region to a dangerous precipice".

Moscow said the Kosovo police force had "long ago discredited itself due to systematic punitive actions against the Serb community".

"Heavily armed special forces troops, which have filled up the non-Albanian districts, remain the main weapon for pushing the Serbs out from Kosovo," said the foreign ministry.

Reffering to a ban on importing goods from central Serbia, Moscow said, "The northern municipalities have for months been on the verge of a humanitarian catastrophe.

"There is a direct threat of the resumption of the ethnic cleansing previously practised by Kosovo Albanian radicals," the foreign ministry added.

A standoff between gunmen and Kosovo authorities at a monastery near the border with Serbia left a police officer dead on Sunday and marked one of the gravest escalations in Kosovo for years.

Kosovo remains overwhelmingly populated by ethnic Albanians, but in the northern stretches of the territory near the border with Serbia, ethnic Serbs remain the majority in several municipalities.

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