Ahead of September 1st and the increasingly frequent announcements that an armed conflict may break out in the north of Kosovo, NATO announced that KFOR has increased its military presence and announced the deployment of new troops – if this proves to be necessary. In order to assess the situation on the ground, the KoSSev portal crew headed to Jarinje today from North Mitrovica.
If you join the main road Mitrovica-Leposavic via the bridge near Dudin Krs, you will notice that the road is closed in the direction of South Mitrovica and that there is a police vehicle stationed there.
If you head towards Jarinje, not far from the cross in Rudare, you will come across a dozen members of the Polish contingent of KFOR and two vans that were monitoring the traffic at the time we were passing by.
Polish units have been recently stationed at this location.
The Polish contingent of KFOR was also deployed to the North, i.e. near Jarinje during last year’s barricades.
Although KFOR said that it has increased its presence, the next patrol we spotted was located at the very entrance to the town of Leposavic, that is, tens of kilometers away.
On our way to Jarinje, we encountered several KFOR vehicles going in the opposite direction, as well as one armored vehicle of the special units of the Kosovo Police.
We found the next patrol, a dozen members of the US contingent of KFOR and two Hummer vehicles, approximately 500 meters from the Jarinje crossing.
Near Jarinje, that is, in the vicinity of the base of the Kosovo Police, built before last year’s barricades at this crossing, we noticed road widening works.
What we discovered during today’s tour of the Pristina-Raska main road is that the media reports about the numerous and constant patrolling of KFOR units on the Jarinje-Mitrovica main road are incorrect.
As KFOR previously confirmed for KoSSev, five permanent checkpoints were established in the entire area and mobile patrols have been increased.
The recent talks in Brussels between Albin Kurti and Aleksandar Vucic did not bear fruit.
The Kosovo government intends to implement the decision on the re-registration of all vehicles to “RKS” and start issuing an entry-exit document for Serbian citizens entering Kosovo.
On July 31st, in protest of these decisions, the Serbs set up barricades ahead of the implementation of the announced decision. The Kosovo government postponed the decision by a month following urgent consultations with the US ambassador and the EU.
Ahead of September 1st, the Kosovo side announced that it will implement the decisions. The decisions in question were met with the support of Western countries, who noted that they are in accordance with the Brussels Agreement from 2011 and 2016. As a solution, the Serbian side proposed to reinstate the use of “KS” plates and that all vehicles with KM plates be registered to “KS”, and that the decision on reciprocity with the declaration sheet be implemented – with the Kosovo Serbs being exempt from it. They accused the Kosovo side of not accepting any proposal.
On the other hand, the Kosovo side alleges that Serbia sent gendarmerie units to the north that set up barricades, as well as multi-ethnic criminal groups supported by official Belgrade are operating in the north. Belgrade is also accused of being a pro-Russian element allegedly trying to cause destabilization in the region and Kosovo itself.
NATO has increased the number of soldiers in the north of Kosovo, primarily in Jarinje and Brnjak and along roads leading to these crossings. Mainly US and Polish troops are deployed here. Currently, there are approximately 3,700 KFOR soldiers deployed in Kosovo, but that number can be increased if necessary.
In an interview for RTK, KFOR commander Ferenc Kajari called on all parties to avoid unilateral actions, and to negotiate and reach a political agreement. Kajari underlined that „setting up barricades does not help to resolve the situation.“ He made it clear that barricades will not be tolerated, that they are monitoring the work of all groups, and that there is no risk of war.
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