Renewed clashes in Kosovo have gained the attention of the international community. Compared to previous provocations, the conflicts on May 29th saw dozens of NATO troops from the Kosovo Force (KFOR), Serbian civilians, and Kosovar police.

KFOR Troops attempt to quell the clashes with Kosovo Serbs on May 29th, 2023, from US News.

What Caused the Renewed Tensions?

The recent tensions in Kosovo came against the backdrop where ethnic Albanian mayors took up their government positions in municipalities historically governed by Serbians. The move is seen by Kosovo Serbs, the Serbian government, and now NATO as provocative as Pristina forcefully moved into the northern regions without permission from the West. The unilateral decision has made integration of the unilateral state much more challenging going forward.

Though KFOR has usually been able to ease tensions in the past, the move by Pristina has backed the policies of the West into a corner. It can be seen as a propaganda victory for Russia and China regarding the status of Kosovo.

How did KFOR and the US Respond?

The United States has seen the municipality gamble by the Kosovar authorities as a unilateral move without the approval of the State Department and KFOR. For this, Kosovo was excluded from the Defender 23 exercises this year.

Along with dropping Kosovo from the exercise, Pristina’s international recognition has been indefinitely halted by Washington. Kosovo officials have been suspended from entering the US, and American diplomats will not visit the state indefinitely.

The move is the harshest punishment meant to Kosovo by America yet as Washington looks to keep Vucic’s decades-long hold over Belgrade under their sphere for as long as possible.

Vucic, a former information minister for Milosevic, was propped into power by the West and is both feeling pressure from the Serbian populace, along with Albanians in Kosovo, for his smoke-and-mirrors politics with both Europe and Russia. Using the West’s power balance system they implemented post-Yugoslav Wars, Vucic looks to get as many concessions from the international community as possible.