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26 Dec, 2022 15:33

Serbia to greatly expand its Special Forces

New units expected by 2023 will be ready to meet any challenges, Defense Minister has said
Serbia to greatly expand its Special Forces

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has ordered to raise the number of troops within the nation’s Special Forces from 1,500 to 5,000, Defense Minister Milos Vucevic said on Monday. The force is expected to be formed by the end of 2023, he added.

Serbia’s Army would get “5,000 highly trained and well-prepared soldiers, non-commissioned officers and officers, who will have completed most modern, up-to-date training… and will have state-of-the-art weapons and military equipment,” Vucevic said in an Instagram post.

The new force would be “the strongest fist that would smash to pieces the malicious intents and goals of those who do not like our nation and want to harm our people,” the minister said, adding that the reformed Special Forces would be ready to fulfill any tasks in any part of the country at any time, and to “respond to all challenges our homeland is facing.”

The announcement comes amid a tense standoff between Serbia and Kosovo that has already drawn the attention of the EU and NATO. Tensions flared up earlier this month when Serbs, who make up the majority in the northern part of the breakaway region, put up barricades to protest against the arrest of a former police officer accused of attacking a Kosovo law-enforcement patrol.

Serbia has asked the NATO-led KFOR peacekeeping force for permission to deploy up to 1,000 Serbian troops and police officers in Kosovo. Belgrade has a right to do so under UN Security Council Resolution 1244, which put an end to the NATO bombing of the former Yugoslavia in 1999. The US said it “categorically” opposes the return of Serbian forces to Kosovo.

Earlier on Monday, the US, the UK, France, Germany and Italy reportedly demanded that Belgrade ensure that Kosovo Serbs remove the barricades within 24 hours.

NATO took control of Kosovo in 1999, after bombing Serbia on behalf of ethnic Albanian separatists. The province’s provisional government declared independence in 2008, which Belgrade has refused to recognize.