British troops from KFOR in Kosovo patrol Serbian border amid high tensions

British troops from KFOR in Kosovo patrol Serbian border amid high tensions
UK reinforcements recently arrived in Kosovo. / MoD
By Valentina Dimitrievska in Skopje November 26, 2023

The escalating tensions along the Kosovo-Serbia border have raised concerns among the international community, leading to the deployment of extra British troops as part of the enhanced Nato peacekeeping mission, Reuters reported on November 25.

Recent violent incidents, including a fatal clash in Banjska, near the Serbian border, have sparked fears that the fragile peace in the region may be jeopardised. In response, Nato has increased its military contingent in Kosovo, with British soldiers playing a crucial role in patrolling the border and preventing the escalation of hostilities.

On September 24, the clash in Banjska resulted in the loss of one Kosovo police officer and three Serbian attackers with origin of the clashes still unclear. In response to these incidents, Nato members, including Romania and the United Kingdom, have bolstered the peacekeeping mission to maintain stability in the region.

To address the escalating tensions, over 130 additional Romanian troops arrived in Kosovo on October 13, following the deployment of 200 British soldiers earlier in the month. 

Multiple Nato nations, including Slovenia, Albania and North Macedonia, committed to boosting their presence in Kosovo to safeguard and maintain peace in the region.

British soldiers are now on the frontline, patrolling the Kosovo-Serbia border in difficult conditions. Operating in 18-hour shifts and enduring freezing temperatures, they play a crucial role in preventing the infiltration of weapons and armed groups into Kosovo.

"Currently we are here on a routine patrol, which consists of understanding patterns of life, gaining intelligence on any illegal or suspicious activity that then gets fed back to KFOR and higher," Lieutenant Joss Gaddie from the British Army told Reuters.

Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, during a press conference in Pristina on November 20, acknowledged the need for ongoing discussions regarding a potential permanent increase in the alliance's military contingent in Kosovo. The objective is to prevent the situation from spiraling out of control and leading to a new violent conflict in Kosovo or the wider region.

Since 1999, Nato has led a peacekeeping operation in Kosovo in alignment with its mandate under UN Security Council Resolution 1244. The mission, known as KFOR, currently comprises over 4,500 troops contributed by 27 Nato allies and partner nations.

Turkey assumed command of KFOR on October 10, taking over from Italy.