On 26 May, clashes broke out in Kosovo - the pretext was the outcome of local elections that resulted in ethnic Albanians, who already make up more than 90% of the population of the Republic, becoming mayors of several Kosovo towns. Ethnic Serbs began to attack Albanian patrols, and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic ordered the Serbian army to be on full alert and to move to Kosovo's borders. In the Balkans, there is a threat of a new war, in which Russia has a keen interest.
In February this year, Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani warned that Serbia was preparing a "Crimean scenario" against the republic and that mercenaries from the Wagner Private Military Company. Wagner maintains a covert presence in Serbia, where it seeks new mercenaries, and uses the territory as a training base and staging post for potential deployment to EU countries, would play a leading role in this. The increasing conflict between Serbs and Albanians in Kosovo has become a serious hybrid threat to Europe.
Provocations like this arise when Russia is looking for a mechanism to put pressure on the West. Last July, for example, Serbs boycotted Pristina's decision to re-register Serbian driving licences for Kosovo - this coincided with the opening of a "grain corridor" for Ukrainian grain and consequently a loss for Russia in its bid to provoke a global food crisis. Now that the Kremlin is also interested in derailing the grain deal, protests have begun against the outcome of the elections in Kosovo. Russia is provoking instability in the Balkans, a classic hybrid threat threatening to destabilise the EU.
Russian hybrid threats are a challenge for the West. The presence of Wagner mercenaries in the Balkans is unacceptable, a latent threat that carries the risk of terrorism, violence, and increased criminality. Russia is a terrorist state, provoking threats to the civilised world. The Kremlin must receive such ferocious sanctions that any cooperation with Russia is rendered impossible.
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