EU mission to boost police officer presence in Kosovo amid war in Ukraine

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By AP  with Euronews
French police officers moved into Kosovo in 2008 as part of a European Union police mission.
French police officers moved into Kosovo in 2008 as part of a European Union police mission.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu, File

The European Union mission in Kosovo has said it will nearly double its police forces in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

A reserve unit of 92 members of the European Gendarmerie Force from Portugal, France and Italy will temporarily deploy to Kosovo in the coming weeks, EULEX said in a statement.

The EU mission already has 105 special Polish officers to help maintain security and enforce the rule of law in Kosovo.

EULEX’s police represent a second line of defence after Kosovo's own police force, while the NATO-led KFOR serves as the third line of defence.

“Russia’s invasion in Ukraine puts everything in a different light,” said EULEX spokesperson Ioanna Lachana, while adding that the “security situation in Kosovo remains stable.”

The 1998-1999 war in Kosovo -- then a Serbian province -- ended after a NATO military intervention forced Serbia to withdraw its forces.

The United Nations administered the territory for nine years before Kosovo declared independence in 2008, a move that Serbia -- and its ally Russia -- doesn’t recognise.

The EU had already doubled the size of its peacekeeping force in Bosnia, sending in 500 reserves as a precautionary measure after Russia’s invasion.

The European Union’s foreign policy chief also said that the bloc would support Western Balkan countries to overcome the economic crisis caused by the war in Ukraine.

“This is the moment to reinvigorate the enlargement process and to anchor the Western Balkans firmly to the EU,” Josep Borrell said on Tuesday.

Borrell denounced Russia’s “brutal aggression” in Ukraine and the deaths from Russian bombing, adding that Russia was exploiting the world economy’s interdependency as a weapon in war.

Consequences from the war, including higher energy prices, were affecting poorer countries like those of the Western Balkans.