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What is known about the presence of the Serbian army near the border with Kosovo?

What is known about the presence of the Serbian army near the border with

The situation in Kosovo, at the moment, is calm, but remains fragile, assessed the peacekeeping mission of NATO in Kosovo, KFOR.

Radio Free Europe asked him for a comment, after the prime minister of Kosovo, Albin Kurti, said a day earlier that "specialized units of the Serbian army were spotted just a few meters from the border with Kosovo" and published, as he claimed, images of them .

"KFOR has a flexible and visible presence throughout Kosovo - which enables our mission to closely monitor any significant security developments and respond to all situations affecting a secure environment," KFOR said. - i.

He did not answer REL's question whether he saw any unusual movements of the Serbian Army or Police near the border with Kosovo.

This mission is responsible for the security of Kosovo's borders with Serbia, while the rest of the border line is handled by the Kosovo Police. Kosovo and Serbia share a border line that is about 400 kilometers long.

Based on an agreement with KFOR, the Kosovo Police can patrol the border with Serbia up to one kilometer near the dividing line. The Armed Forces of Serbia must also inform KFOR if their units come closer than 1 kilometer from the border with Kosovo.

The Ministry of Defense of Serbia said through a statement to the media that Kurti's claims are "a continuation of the disinformation campaign directed against the Serbian Army".

According to this ministry, in the video, members of the Serbian Army are seen in the land security zone, "carrying out regular tasks for securing the administrative line and controlling the land security zone".

These actions were said to be in accordance with the military-technical agreements and all other agreements signed with KFOR.

In the reaction of the Serbian ministry, it is also stated that in securing the "administrative line towards Kosovo and Metohija" - as Serbia refers to the border with Kosovo - "there is no place for the Kosovo Police and the Kosovo Security Force".

The forensics team of Radio Free Europe analyzed the footage  that Kurti shared on social networks and located the location of the Serbian military vehicles. 

The vehicles in the video appear to be facing towards Serbian villages, while the soldiers approach the parked military vehicles.

According to the meter, which is part of the Google Maps tool, at the time of the video, two vehicles and some soldiers are located about 350 meters from the border with Kosovo, according to the air line.

In that place, there is also a small sandy road that crosses the border. On both sides of the border, houses can be seen nearby.

Immediately after this border line are the villages of Banjë and Kleçkë in Kosovo.

Speaking on Friday at a conference with journalists, Prime Minister Kurti said that "it is not normal for those military vehicles to come just a few meters close to the border".

"They have come to provoke, but we have filmed this, we have witnessed it, but we have not undertaken anything. We were careful, we watched them to see if they would cross the border, but they didn't. I am satisfied that today they are not there, they were not there until 16:00", he said.

The US Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia, James O'Brien, said that the US is monitoring the movements of the Serbian army near the border with Kosovo.

In an online chat with reporters, also on Friday, O'Brien said the US has made it clear to Serbia that the use of force would be unacceptable.

He said that an eventual movement by the forces of Serbia would be considered by the US as endangering the NATO forces "that are in Kosovo to protect Albanians and Serbs".

According to him, the Serbian president, Aleksandar Vučić, "has said that there will be no use of force".

The USA has described it as a destabilizing development even when Serbia has gathered military troops on the border with Kosovo, shortly after the armed attack in Banjska, in September of last year.

Mentor Vrajolli, from the Kosovo Center for Security Studies, says that the presence of Serbian Army units near the border with Kosovo "is provocative".

The concerns raised by the Prime Minister of Kosovo, Albin Kurti, regarding this issue, he says, should not be ignored by the institutions of Kosovo or international factors.

"We should not deny the possibility that these individuals, these soldiers [of Serbia], who come to the border line, are gathering intelligence information about the gaps in the border of Kosovo", says Vrajolli for Radio Free Europe.

He emphasizes that Kosovo's institutions should not fall prey to these provocative actions, but should be prepared to intervene, in case such units cross the border.

Vrajolli says that Kosovo and Serbia have not demarcated the border and this fact is misused by Serbian forces.

"They can use this as a pretext, say 'we thought it was ours' or 'we think it was ours'", says Vrajolli.

Serbia, with its Constitution, continues to consider Kosovo as part of its territory, even though Kosovo declared independence as early as 2008.

The two countries have been in negotiations for the normalization of relations since 2011.

Last month, it has been a year since they reached the Basic Agreement for the normalization of relations - which, among other things, foresees mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity - but its implementation has stalled./REL

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