Moscow fully backs its ally Belgrade in the dispute with Kosovo over the decision by the breakaway province to ban Serbian license plates and identification papers, the Kremlin press-secretary Dmitry Peskov has said.
“Of course, we absolutely support Serbia,” Peskov replied, after being addressed on the issue by journalists on Monday.
The decision by the Kosovo authorities to outlaw Serbian license plates and IDs was “absolutely unreasonable,” he stated.
On Sunday, Serbs in the north of the breakaway province set up roadblocks and rang alarm bells as heavily armed special police took control over two administrative crossings with Serbia, preparing to implement the order by Pristina.
As tensions mounted, Kosovo’s prime minister Albin Kurti announced late in the day that the ban had been postponed at the request of the US ambassador to the province. However, Kurti stressed that the measure, which according to Pristina was needed to impose “law and order,” has only been delayed, not canceled.
“Thank God, the escalation was avoided tonight, but this situation has only been postponed for one month, so it’s paramount for all sides to show prudence,” the Kremlin press-secretary pointed out.
Russia’s ambassador to Serbia Alexander Botsan-Kharchenko also warned on Monday that “it was difficult to see the conditions for finding sustainable solutions to those issues that caused the current spike in tension.” The lack of agreement on license plates and IDs, and many other similar matters, are “being used by Pristina to make one-sided, spontaneous decisions aimed at squeezing [the Serbs] out of Kosovo,” he added.
According to Peskov, Moscow believes that that the Western countries, which recognized the mainly Albanian-populated Kososvo in 2008, “should now use their influence to warn the authorities in Kosovo against making any ill-conceived steps,” he said.
Serbia considers Kosovo a part of its territory, and is backed in doing so by Russia, China and the UN in general, who haven’t recognized the territory as an independent entity.
Russia was behind the “peaceful and constructive” stance taken by Belgrade regarding the dispute and voiced by the Serbian president Aleksandar Vucic, the Kremlin press-secretary pointed out.
In his address to the nation on Sunday, Vucic urged all sides to “keep the peace at almost any cost. I am asking the Albanians to come to their senses, the Serbs not to fall for provocations.”
However, he also blamed the authorities in Kosovo of violating the human rights of the local Serbs, and promised that they “will not suffer any more atrocities.”