Russia warns of 'bloodshed' risk in new Kosovo dispute

15th September 2011, Comments 0 comments

Russia warned Thursday that any government takeover of border crossings in a flashpoint zone of Kosovo could lead to new "bloodshed" in the disputed territory.

UN leader Ban Ki-moon also joined international calls for calm in Kosovo ahead of a Security Council meeting called by Russia.

"This is a very dangerous situation," Russia's UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin said of events along the north Kosovo border with Serbia.

"There is a real danger of conflict and bloodshed because the international presence, is, according to our information, together with the Pristina authorities, planning for a forceful takeover operation in northern Kosovo which is a very bad thing," Churkin told reporters.

A NATO force currently mans the border crossings on Kosovo's northern border in a zone dominated by the ethnic Serbian community. The prime minister of Kosovo's ethnic-Albanian dominated government, Hashim Thaci, has said however that government forces would take control of the border posts on Friday.

An ethnic Albanian policeman was killed in clashes after incidents at the border posts in July.

The Belgrade government, which has never recognized Kosovo's 2008 declaration of independence from Serbia, demanded a Security Council meeting and Russia supported that call.

Ban told a press conference he was "deeply concerned" about the new tensions and their potential impact on stability in northern Kosovo.

He said Serbia's Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic had sent a letter asking for UN action over the border crossings.

Ban urged Serbia and Kosovo "to make every effort to avoid an escalation of tensions and prevent confrontation in northern Kosovo."

© 2011 AFP

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