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NATO and EU defuse Serbian-Kosovo border tensions

KFOR commander Major General Franco Federici monitoring the situation in northern Kosovo by helicopter. (KFOR)

EU Special Representative for the Belgrade-Priština Dialogue Miroslav Lajcak announced a de-escalation agreement between Serbia and Kosovo on 30 September, 10 days after the combat readiness of Serbian Armed Forces (SAF) units based in Raška and Novi Pazar near the Kosovo border was raised in response to Priština's special police deployment at border checkpoints in northern Kosovo.

The tensions began after Kosovo started removing licence plates from Serbian vehicles entering the country on 19 September, reciprocating Serbia's already existing practice with vehicles registered in Kosovo, with both nations forcing drivers to buy temporary plates. Serbia does not recognise the independence of its former province of Kosovo and Metohija and considers their common border to be temporary; it therefore saw Priština's move as a provocation aimed against Serbs living in Kosovo.

The tensions began on 20 September, when the Kosovo Interior Ministry's Regional Operational Support Unit (ROSU) special police unit deployed Humvee and Bastion 4×4 armoured vehicles to the border with Serbia. This prompted the SAF deployment close to the border of elements of its elite 72nd Special Operations Brigade and 63rd Parachute Brigade, which the Serbian Ministry of Defence showed in photos on its website on 23 September equipped with Humvee and BOV M16 Miloš 4×4 and Lazar III 8×8 armoured vehicles. In addition, the ministry showed photos of SAF M-84 main battle tanks and M-84A infantry fighting vehicles moving in the vicinity of the border while Serbian and Kosovo media broadcast video on 24–25 September of combat-capable H145M and Mi-35M helicopters and MiG-29 fighters overflying the Jarinje and Brnjak border crossings.

NATO's Kosovo Force (KFOR) sent Janes

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