Russia 'revolted' by Kosovan raid on Serbian region
28 May 2019, 15:50 | Updated: 28 May 2019, 19:15
An armed police raid saw tensions flare between Serbia and Kosovo, where a fragile peace has repeatedly come under strain since Kosovo declared independence.
During the police operation, Kosovan officials captured two UN officials, one of whom was Russian.
This sparked harsh condemnation from the UNMIK (the UN body in the region) and Moscow.
Some 23 people were arrested as part of what Kosovo said was a raid on corruption and crime in the Serb-populated north of Kosovo.
The raid angered Serbia, who warned the action was a threat to the fragile peace in the region.
Serbia responded by putting its troops on full alert, with President Aleksandar Vucic accusing Kosovo's police of "bursting" into the region with armoured vehicles, against what he claimed were "unarmed Serbs", and firing shots in the air.
The two UN staff members ended up requiring treatment for injuries after they were let go.
Before their release, both Russia and the UN condemned the action, with UNMIK ambassador Zahir Tanin calling for their immediate release, saying: "Any harm to United Nations staff will be met with the highest degree of diplomatic and international legal responses."
Alexander Chepurin, the Russian ambassador to Belgrade, said on Twitter that "we are revolted by the provocation".
He continued: "We are demanding immediate release of the Russian (citizen) and establishing the responsibility for all those responsible for this flagrant incident."
Kosovo's President Hashim Thaci defended his actions, saying the Russian citizen was "camouflaged under a diplomatic veil to hamper the police operation".
He added that the police operation early on Tuesday in Mitrovica was fully legal and "directed against no community".
Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia in 2008, prompting the UNMIK to roll back its presence in the country.
Serbia and Russia, a strong ally, does not recognise the declaration.
Russia's foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova accused Kosovo of stoking ethnic tensions with Serbia, saying Pristina "provoked" Serbia by sending its police force to enter Serb-populated regions of the former Serbian province.
Ms Zakharova said the incursion "aims to stoke fears into the non-Albanian population" and "seize control over those areas by force".
(c) Sky News 2019: Russia 'revolted' by Kosovan raid on Serbian region