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SERBIA SEEKS TO SEND TROOPS TO KOSOVO AND CONCERNS OVER RUSSIAN PARAMILITARY'S "ROGUE ACTIONS"

December 8-14, 2022 | Issue 30 - EUCOM

Marina Tovar, Matthew Bauer, EUCOM Team

Claudia Santillan-Vazquez, Editor; Salomon Montaguth, Senior Editor


KFOR forces[1]


Date: December 9, 2022

Location: Serbia

Parties involved: Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic; Serbia; Serbian security troops; ethnic Serbs; Kosovo; Kosovar police; Kosovo Force (KFOR); UN; NATO

The event: Serbia is contemplating sending 1,000 security troops to Kosovo as part of UN Resolution 1244 in response to increased Kosovar police presence in a Serb-majority region. The NATO-led peacekeepers in Kosovo, the KFOR, would have to approve Serb troops’ deployment. Brnabic believes the KFOR is not protecting Serbs against Kosovo security harassment, but Kosovar police stated their increase serves to provide security to the citizens.[2]

Analysis & Implications:

  • Brnabic will almost certainly ask the KFOR for approval to send Serbian security troops to northern Kosovo to protect the Serb majority in the region. The KFOR will very likely deny the request to prevent tensions between the Kosovar police and Serbian security troops. Serbian intentions to send security troops to Kosovo will very likely create diplomatic tensions, as Kosovo very likely sees it as a way to infiltrate the country and monitor the Serb-majority region of Kosovo. There is a roughly even chance that NATO will add more KFOR troops in northern Kosovo to prevent an escalation at the border.

  • Kosovo will very likely increase police presence in northern Kosovo near the Serbian border, likely to deter Serbian military intervention in northern Kosovo. Ethnic Serbs in northern Kosovo will almost certainly protest the increase in Kosovar police, and some will very likely shoot or bomb Kosovar police units and vehicles, blocking roads in the region. This will very likely increase tensions between Kosovar police and the Serb majority, and Kosovar police will likely become violent against ethnic Serbs as they attempt to stop protests. The Serbian government will likely blame Kosovo for attacks on Serbs, and the UN will likely attempt to charter peace between Kosovo and Serbia.


Date: December 12, 2022

Location: Ukraine

Parties involved: Kremlin; Russian neo-Nazi group, Task Force Rusich; Russian paramilitary group, Wagner Group; Latvia; Latvian State Security Service (VDD); Lithuania; State Security Department of Lithuania (VSD); Estonia; Estonian Internal Security Service; pro-Russian Latvian, Lithuanian, and Estonian military personnel; NATO

The event: Task Force Rusich posted on Telegram requesting data on military movements in Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, raising concerns about Russian paramilitary groups conducting “rogue actions” in NATO states. The post asked for specifics about communication towers, security systems, and fuel deposits in border areas and got over 60,000 views. Task Force Rusich has close ties to the Wagner Group and has been active in Ukraine.[3]

Analysis & Implications:

  • Task Force Rusich will very likely increase intelligence requests to assist Russia’s efforts against NATO, likely leading to pro-Russian individuals sharing information about their countries' military on Telegram. Threats of information leaks to pro-Russian and neo-Nazi groups will likely lead the VDD, VSD, and Estonian internal Security Service to track Telegram channels for neo-Nazi and pro-Russian messages. Pro-Russian military personnel sharing information in Telegram channels will likely use codified messages to share information to avoid detection. Latvian, Lithuanian, and Estonian militaries will very likely increase secretive military movements and operations to prevent information leaks to Task Force Rusich online.

  • Due to Task Force Rusich's close ties with the Wagner Group, its intelligence request was likely a petition from the Wagner Group. The Kremlin likely requested the Wagner Group to work with affiliated paramilitary groups to gather on-the-ground military intelligence on Russian-bordering NATO states, likely due to Russia’s lack of on-the-ground personnel. This likely indicates the Kremlin is increasing paramilitary operations as an intelligence tool, likely to understand and evaluate NATO-bordering countries' military capabilities in case the Russia-Ukraine war escalates. The Kremlin will very likely use the intelligence to prepare a defensive military strategy against possible operations targeting on-the-ground Russian military personnel by NATO-bordering countries.

 

[1] KFOR Removes Roadblock Near Rudare, Kosovo, June 1, 2012 by Georgia National Guard licensed under CC BY 2.0

[2] Serbia mulls sending troops to Kosovo as tensions escalate, ABC, December 2022, https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/officer-injured-shooting-amid-tension-northern-kosovo-94846476

[3] A brutal Russian paramilitary group active in Ukraine called for border intelligence on nearby NATO states: report, Business Insider, December 2022, https://www.businessinsider.com/russia-paramiitary-group-asks-for-intel-on-nato-states-guardian-2022-12

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