The Chief of the General Staff of the Serbian Armed Forces, Milan Mojsilović, said that there was no increase in the combat readiness of the Serbian Armed Forces, but rather activities in the Land Security Zone. He added that there are 4,500 deployed members of the Armed Forces in that area. He confirmed that since 2021, the residents of Kosovo have been invited to army reserve exercises, but that the turnout is low at 19%. Milan Radoičić is one of those who also did not respond to this call. Mojsilović also denied that Radoičić trained at the Pasuljanske Livade. „I fully deny the allegations from Pristina.“
After Pristina shared the latest alleged evidence of Serbia’s alleged involvement, including the army, in the incident in Banjska on September 24th, Serbian officials addressed the public again today. First, the head of the Kosovo Office, Petar Petković, held a conference, followed by a joint conference with Minister of Defense Miloš Vučević and the Chief of the General Staff.
The latest evidence includes photographs of weapons, as well as video recordings that allegedly show exercises and preparations for an attack carried out in Serbia proper, that is, in Kopaonik and Pasuljanske Livade. At the same time, Pristina published videos that it alleges are of the initial attacks, when a member of the Kosovo Police was killed.
These recordings were presented to the media at yesterday’s conference by Kosovo’s Minister of Internal Affairs, Xhelal Svecla, and Director of the Kosovo Police, Gazmend Hoxha.
Svecla emphasized that the videos were taken by one of the drones that were seized in Banjska, which, he said, „was in the hands of terrorists.“
„I want to inform you that, in accordance with the orders of the Commander-in-Chief, there was no raising of the full combat readiness of the Serbian Armed Forces, but only an increased presence and engagement of units in the land security zone and near the administrative line. After the outbreak of the security crisis, the Serbian Army, following and implementing the orders, increased its presence in the land security zone. On September 25th, 8,350 personnel were deployed, not only to secure the administrative line in the land security zone, but also in the formations of units that locate and are deployed near the administrative line. “From a military point of view, I believe that all comments on the size of the Serbian Armed Forces are totally unnecessary,“ said Mojsilović.
He also recalled the security crisis in December 2022, as well as the one in May of 2023.
„Based on the orders of the Commander-in-Chief and the President of Serbia, following all the orders we received, the Serbian Armed Forces raised their combat readiness to the highest level in the aforementioned two events and engaged 14,000 members of the Serbian Armed Forces in both events. In those two events, not so long ago, we didn’t bother anyone, no one expressed concern about the large size of the engaged forces in the land security zone, along the administrative line and on the routes leading to Kosovo,“ he pointed out.
„That’s why it’s surprising today when someone expresses deep concern about 8,350 personnel, we see no reason for that even today, really, when there was no formal increase in combat readiness and, on the contrary, the number is twice as low,“ the general added.
He announced that the Serbian Army currently has 4,500 personnel deployed in the Land Zone, who have the ability to monitor, secure and influence the security situation in Serbia.
„The mode of operation of the units in the five-kilometer zone in the Land Security Zone, tasked with securing the administrative line with Kosovo and Metohija, has been returned to normal. This implies and means a regular number of engaged units in the Land Security Zone,“ Mojsilović emphasized.
Addressing Svecla’s statement that alleged evidence was obtained proving that Serbia tried to „annex the North“, as well as that the attackers had been preparing for a long time in military bases in Serbia, Mojsilović denied these allegations.
„Regarding the accusations that we trained terrorists, I emphasize that the Serbian Army is a serious, strong organization that does not tolerate any improvisations or lies. Accusations that the Serbian Army planned an invasion of Kosovo and Metohija are insulting,“ said Mojsilović.
He emphasized that from a military point of view it seems „totally out of operational logic that 30 people and 4,500 members of the Serbian Army have that kind of power.“
„I have been wearing a uniform for 37 years, I consider myself a man with a certain military experience. If you ask me, 14,000 personnel are too few for such a complex task,“ said Mojsilović.
Serbs from Kosovo on reservist training, but low turnout and poor discipline
Mojsilović also spoke about the training of the reserve forces of the Serbian Army, to which all persons between the ages of 18 and 60 are subject, while also sharing statistics, which include data that 2,400 such members of this force were trained this year.
„I want to draw your attention to the fact that persons from the reserve force from the territory of Kosovo and Metohija are part of the integral system of filling the reserve force of the Serbian Armed Forces. Of course, I use the opportunity to deny all the allegations that were made from Pristina on behalf of the Serbian Army.“
He confirmed that for the past four years, citizens living in Kosovo have also been called up, including the four northern municipalities and the Kosovo Pomoravlje, for regular training of the reserve composition of the Serbian Armed Forces.
However, he emphasized that due to their life in complex conditions, the Army estimates that very few of them respond to military exercises.
That turnout does not exceed 19% and is approximately equal to the turnout of reserve persons in some municipalities in the north of the Republic.
He also presented data on the low turnout: 10 persons accepted the call in 2021, on two subsequent occasions in 2022 – 30, i.e., 80 (110 in total) at the military training grounds in Vršac and Pasuljanske Livade. In 2023, in February and March, a one-day exercise in the garrison and Raška with 15 people each.
„In this second round, or in March, there were certain problems, where a small number were removed from training due to lack of discipline.“
However, the largest number responded the call in September of this year, 138 reserve personnel from Kosovo, but only 10 of them attended „two or three exercises“.
Milan Radoičić did not respond to calls.
„I have to underline that they live and work in quite complex conditions and I appreciate that these are the reasons for the low turnout at military exercises, which does not exceed 19%. I would like to inform you that Milan Radoičić did not participate in the training at Pasuljanske Livade, did not fire a single bullet or launch a grenade or attend any activity. He was invited to exercises, but he did not respond, and what he does on private property is not a matter concerning the Armed Forces.“
He said that in September, training practices were carried out in Pasuljanske livade, and that while some individuals from Kosovo participated in them, Milan Radoičić did not.
“As per our records, we inform you that Milan Radoičić did not participate in the training at the Pasuljanske livade. He didn’t fire a single bullet. He did not launch a single grenade, nor did he attend the mentioned activities. I repeat, he did not attend or participate in the training. On a couple of occasions, in previous years, he was invited to the exercises, but he did not respond to them. And what Radoičić is doing on private property, you will agree with me, is not a matter for the Serbian Army.“
Finally, Mojsilović pointed to the fact that residents of Kosovo are part of the integral system of filling the reserve composition of the Armed Forces and once again denied the allegations made by Pristina.
Pristina’s claims that Serbia armed and trained Serbs in Kosovo are incorrect, Defense Minister Miloš Vučević pointed out.
The Serbian Army has never violated Resolution 1244 and the Military-Technical Agreement from Kumanovo, said Vučević.
If the army receives an order for its units to enter the territory of Kosovo and Metohija, as part of the Republic of Serbia, such a task will be carried out efficiently, professionally, and successfully, Vučević noted that Serbia will do everything to prevent this from happening.
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