Moscow: Over 130 additional troops from Romania have arrived in Kosovo to strengthen NATO’s Kosovo Force (KFOR) and ensure that the mission is able to fulfill its UN mandate, the alliance said on Saturday.
“More than 130 additional troops from Romania arrived in Kosovo on Friday (13 October 2023) to further reinforce NATO’s Kosovo Force (KFOR) peacekeeping mission, in addition to two hundred British soldiers deployed earlier this month,” NATO said in a statement.
The bloc added that the deployments were a “prudent step” to strengthen the mission’s capabilities to ensure it fulfills its UN mandate to maintain a “safe and secure environment and freedom of movement” for people in Kosovo.
Last week, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic called on the NATO contingent in Kosovo to take over security in the region’s north from local police in light of armed clashes between Serbs and Kosovar police in late September. Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama also urged KFOR to take control in northern Kosovo to avoid violent incidents.
NATO has stepped up its presence in self-proclaimed Kosovo, with 500 Turkish servicepeople arriving there in June after the escalation of the already tense relations between Kosovo Serbs and Kosovo Albanians at the end of May, which resulted in clashes that left dozens of people injured.
Earlier in the month, the first group of 200 soldiers sent by the United Kingdom to reinforce KFOR arrived in Kosovo, joining the country’s 400-strong contingent.
Serbia has still not recognized the self-proclaimed independence of Kosovo, its former province which it continues to refer to as its Kosovo and Metohija region. A large ethnic Serb community is still residing in Kosovo’s north, often bearing the brunt of diplomatic tensions between Belgrade and Pristina, and protesting what they consider discriminatory Kosovar policies.