The Serbian region of Kosovo and Metohija appeared in the news again in late September 2021 due to the sharp exacerbation of the "frozen" conflict, which could eventually escalate into hostilities in the Balkan region.
This region of Serbia is not controlled by Belgrade and is recognized by the United States, Canada, Australia, and most Western European states as the Republic of Kosovo.
The share of countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America that have recognized its sovereignty is much smaller.
Russia, other members of the CSTO and China advocate the territorial integrity of Serbia.
There is no unity among NATO and EU member states on the issue either.
Tensions in the region escalated after Kosovo authorities prohibited to use Serbian license plates on the territory that they control.
To ensure this prohibition, special police units were deployed in the Serb-populated Northern Kosovo region, incidents of attacks on Serbian citizens were reported.
The actions of the Kosovars are not accidental: Belgrade, which considers Kosovo its territory, acts similarly with regard to license plates of Pristina.
However, the excessive use of force by Kosovo security forces pushed the Serbian armed forces to be on high alert.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Maria Zakharova called on NATO to put pressure on the administration in Pristina in order to withdraw security forces from the north of Kosovo and prevent the situation from further escalation into an open conflict.
Northern Kosovo, which borders on Serbia, is an autonomous region that Pristina does not control. This region is populated by ethnic Serbs. Confrontations in Kosovo between the Albanians (the majority of the population are Muslims) and the Serbs (mainly Christians) have years and years of history.
It is rather difficult for a person living in Russia, the United States and any other large country to imagine that a small, albeit proud Balkan nation has been nurturing the theory of Greater Albania for a long time. In accordance with this theory, all territories populated by Albanians should reunite into a relatively large European state.
This idea provides for northwestern regions of North Macedonia, the southern part of Serbia (including Kosovo and the Presevo Valley) and the southern regions of Montenegro to join modern-day Albania. Some of its supporters even eye northern regions of Greece.
The idea of Greater Albania was put into practice in 1941 during the Nazi occupation of Yugoslavia. The decree signed by the King of Italy, Victor Emmanuel III, established the Grand Duchy of Albania in all Albanian-populated lands.
This led to massive pogroms in Serbian regions. Tens of thousands of Serb houses were burned down, and their residents were either deported or forced to flee to Serbia and Montenegro.
The 21st Mountain (1st Albanian) SS Division Skanderberg recruited the Albanians. The division "earned its reputation" for the genocide of the Serb population. The Albanians had killed over 10,000 Serbs during the Second World War. About 100,000 fled from Kosovo to Serbia and Montenegro.
Sadly, from the experience of the USSR and Yugoslavia it became obvious that even the successful imposition of common ideology failed to eliminate inter-ethnic strife between the artificially united peoples.
During the collapse of socialist Yugoslavia, the centrifugal processes of the country's disintegration took on radical forms, with the activities of the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) being the quintessence of them.
Formed as a result of the merger of several Albanian armed groups and trained by instructors from the American and British special services, the KLA became a successor to the traditions of the 21st SS Division. It was linked with Al-Qaeda terrorist group (banned in Russia) and human organ trafficking, which former Hague Tribunal Prosecutor Carla del Ponte subsequently admitted.
Needless to say that the KLA primarily targeted the Serbs in its activities.
Subsequently, the KLA was transformed into the NATO-legalized Kosovo Protection Corps. One of its leaders, Agim Ceku, became the prime minister of the partially recognized republic.
This is a typical case to illustrate how the West supports obvious war criminals under the guise of national liberation.
The crisis around the rebellious Serbian province has given food for thought to many political scientists around the world. Some experts openly incite Belgrade to take active military action against Pristina, while others urge Serbia to remain cautious.
Western support for Kosovo makes one think about chances for premeditated provocations against the Serbs. NATO refrains from any action against Belgrade and opts for indirect hybrid actions instead to rock the internal political situation in Serbia from within.
Having failed to reach consensus for the next military operation to pacify Belgrade, NATO will seek to strengthen the international isolation of Serbia and reduce the role of Russia in influencing the Balkans.
For all parties to the conflict, it is extremely important not to let the fire of the local conflict grow into the flames of a regional war.
After all, everyone understands that the world may not have the energy to survive another major regional war in the Balkans.
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