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Kosovo-Serbia tensions flare; NATO peacekeepers tracking border protests

Tensions flared between Kosovo and Serbia on the weekend, raising concerns concerning the chance for fresh unrest in the Balkans at the same time when Western allies are centered on the war in Ukraine.

The NATO-led international peacekeeping force in Kosovo, referred to as KFOR, said in a statement it had been monitoring the problem in Kosovo closely and is ready to intervene if stability is jeopardized.

Ethnic Serbs in northern municipalities of Kosovo bordering Serbia blocked roads and skirmished with police on the eve of the implementation of a law requiring them to displace their license plates with Kosovo plates.

The brand new rules have been due to enter into effect Monday and could have required Serbian ID and passports holders to acquire a supplementary document to enter Kosovo, as has already been the case for Kosovars entering Serbia.

Josep Borrell, the European Unions top diplomat, welcomed a choice by Kosovo to delay the measures until Sept. 1 and needed all roadblocks to be removed immediately. In a statement posted on Twitter, the E.U. special envoy, Miroslav Lajcak, expressed gratitude to the U.S. ambassador to Kosovo, Jeffrey M. Hovenier, for strong support.

No-one was injured in Sundays protests, Kosovo police said, even while gunshots were heard in several locations, many of them fond of police units. The protesters parked trucks along with other heavy machinery on roads resulting in two border crossings.

Russias invasion of Ukraine has stirred wider tensions in your community. Analysts say the nationalist and revisionist worldview of Russia has found a receptive audience in your community, specifically in President Aleksandar Vucic of Serbia, Bosnian Serb political leader Milorad Dodik and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

Serbia, a normal Russian ally, has rejected calls from the E.U. and america to become listed on in sanctions against Moscow. Russia alongside China still will not recognize Kosovos independence and decried NATOs war against its ally. The Western military alliance launched a bombing campaign in 1999 that hit targets across that which was then your combined Serbia and Montenegro in a bid to prevent Serbias onslaught against ethnic Kosovar Albanians fighting for autonomy.

Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for Russias Foreign Ministry, accused Kosovo on Sunday of utilizing the new licensing laws and ID documents as a step toward ousting the Serbian population.

We ask Pristina and america and europe backing it to avoid provocation and take notice of the Serbs rights in Kosovo, she said, based on the Russian news agency Tass, describing certain requirements as discriminatory.

Should they dare to persecute and mistreat and kill Serbs, Serbia will win, Vucic said in a news conference Sunday. Kosovos prime minister, Albin Kurti, has accused Vucic of instigating the violence.

Ishaan Tharoor contributed to the report.

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