British NATO Troops Patrol Kosovo-Serbia Border Amid High Tensions

British troops of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) peacekeeping presence continue to patrol the Kosovo-Serbia border amid high tensions between both countries. NATO and many analysts are currently worried that the countries’ ongoing tensions could erupt into open warfare in the near future.

On the Kosovo-Serbia border, troops from Britain and Romania are patrolling as a part of NATO to help keep the peace between the formerly warring countries. Escalations between Kosovo and Serbia have been rising since gunfire erupted between armed Serbs and Kosovo authorities on Sept. 24 in the village of Banjska.

Many analysts have claimed that this fight in Banjska — which resulted in one police officer and three gunmen being killed — is the worst violence seen between the two countries since Kosovo gained independence from Serbia in 2008.

Recent months have also seen an increase in violence.

After this attack, Kosovo insinuated that Serbia was providing financial support to the armed Serbs. Serbia has denied these accusations.

However, this violence on Sept. 24 and in recent months has led NATO to send extra troops to the region to help the situation from escalating further. After NATO sent an additional 1,000 troops to the area, more than 4,500 troops are now stationed there.

These troops, who are aligned with NATO and from a total of 27 different countries, were sent on a peacekeeping mission. They are currently at the border of the two countries, ensuring no armed groups, weapons, or other contraband enter Kosovo. According to Reuters, British troops are working 18-hour shifts on the border in freezing conditions to help keep the peace.

In 1999, NATO also intervened when violence erupted between the two parties. Though Kosovo gained independence in 2008, about 5% of the population are ethnic Serbians. They do not recognize Kosovo’s independence and instead say they are still a part of Serbia.

Half of these ethnic Serbs live in the north of Kosovo. They have often clashed with both Kosovo authorities and international peacekeeping missions. Violence between these sometimes armed groups has escalated recently, which has worried NATO and Europe.

Many analysts have also tried to bring attention to the growing escalations between Kosovo and Serbia. However, some worry that the ongoing attention on the wars between Ukraine and Russia, and now Israel and Hamas, has taken attention from what is happening on the Kosovo-Serbia border.

NATO is now looking into whether they need to send more forces to the border. According to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, NATO is trying “to ensure that this doesn’t spiral out of control” or that escalations don’t create “a new violent conflict in Kosovo or in the wider region.”