Pristina’s attitude towards Serbs seems to be similar to that of Kiev towards Donbass, Moscow’s ambassador to Belgrade believes
The reasons that led to the ongoing standoff in Kosovo, Serbia’s breakaway province, resemble the causes of the Donbass crisis, the Russian envoy to Belgrade, Alexander Botsan-Kharchenko, told Rossiya 24 TV channel on Monday.
“The whole situation [in Kosovo], everything [there], including Pristina’s attitude towards the Kosovo Serbs, resembles, although on a smaller scale, what has happened and is still happening in Ukraine,” the diplomat said, adding that the West is behaving the same way it did with Kiev.
Back in 2014, the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics in what was once Ukraine’s eastern part rejected the government in Kiev in the aftermath of the Maidan coup and declared independence. Kiev sent troops to Donbass, thus provoking a lengthy low-intensity conflict. This fall, the two Donbass republics, along with Kherson and Zaporozhye Regions, formally joined Russia after voting overwhelmingly in favor of the move in referendums.
Comparing the Donbass crisis to tensions in Kosovo, the ambassador added that “Pristina’s desire … to take control over all of Kosovo, including the regions inhabited by Serbs, at all cost” is what “lies at the heart” of this standoff. Any further escalation would lead to more drastic consequences, Botsan-Kharchenko warned.
According to the envoy, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic still seeks to get out of this spiral of tensions “through peaceful means” and avoid transforming it into a full-blown conflict.
“Pristina openly … bets on hard power, brute force,” Botsan-Kharchenko added, stressing that this attitude on part of the Kosovo authorities makes a peaceful resolution “extremely hard” to reach.
The ongoing standoff in the predominantly Serbian northern Kosovo was sparked by the arrest of a former local police officer accused of attacking an ethnic Albanian law enforcement patrol. Over the weekend, protesters erected barricades, prompting Pristina and the EU to demand they be dismantled.
Belgrade accused the EU and other Kosovo backers of ignoring the grievances of Kosovo Serbs and noticing them only “when they are on the barricades.”
At the same time, Vucic called on Serbs in the breakaway province on Sunday to “be calm and peaceful” as well as to refrain from any aggressive moves against EULEX and KFOR, the EU- and NATO-led missions stationed in Kosovo. “We will do everything to preserve peace and stability,” he added at the time.
December 13, 2022 at 04:13AM