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Serbia turns to Russia after Kosovo monastery shootings

Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić reached out to long-time ally Russia after Kosovo accused him of orchestrating an attack in the ethnic Serb-dominated region of northern Kosovo, Politico reported.

On Monday, Vučić met with Russian Ambassador Aleksandr Botsan-Kharchenko to discuss the aftermath of a deadly standoff at a Serbian Orthodox monastery between armed ethnic Serbs and Kosovo police.

Kosovo forces reported that one police officer and three of about 30 gunmen were killed.

Kosovo’s leaders declared Monday a day of mourning, calling the incident a terrorist attack. During a ceremony in honour of the killed policeman, Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti accused Serbia of trying to destabilise the country.

Afrim Bunjaku was killed during an attack on Kosovo policemen and on our state itself, by a group of highly armed and heavily equipped, professionally trained and planned, politically supported, materially financed and logistically supported by Serbia.

In response, Vučić accused Kurti of carrying out “brutal ethnic cleansing” supported by part of the international community. Russia, which does not recognise Kosovo’s independence, claimed it was “closely monitoring the potentially dangerous” situation in Kosovo, stressing that there was a “biased attitude towards Serbs.”

Denying Belgrade’s involvement, Vučić called the attack “absolutely reprehensible” and stated the gunmen were local Kosovo Serbs who “do not want to suffer under Kurti’s terror anymore.”

Kosovo declared its independence in 2008, but Serbia refused to recognise it.

The international community condemned Sunday’s armed attack. US State Antony Blinken called it “unacceptable” and asked Kosovo and Serbia to “avoid actions which could further inflame tensions and to immediately return to the EU-facilitated dialogue.”

Kosovo forces besieged the village of Banjska on Monday to capture the remaining gunmen. Police reported finding the body of the fourth attacker and a large cache of weapons.

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