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Serbia issues drone downing order — RT World News

Belgrade dispatched fighters after drones were spotted over military bases near Kosovo

The Serbian military has been ordered to immediately destroy any hostile drones in the country’s airspace, President Aleksandar Vucic announced on Tuesday. The new rules of engagement come after MiG-29 interceptors were dispatched to fend off drones spotted over military bases near the border with the breakaway province of Kosovo.

Several unmanned aerial vehicles were detected over a military installation near Merdare, one of the designated crossing points between Kosovo and the rest of Serbia, and Vucic ordered the army to deploy planes with the order to shoot. The drones then quickly retreated, Belgrade media reported. The order to shoot down any hostile drones remains in effect, however.

Defense Minister Milos Vucevic revealed earlier on Tuesday that the military had already been placed on high alert “to be ready to respond to any task”, as the ethnic Albanian administration in Kosovo attempted to coerce Serbs living there to change their license plates and documents.

Kosovo was occupied by NATO in 1999 and its Albanian provisional government declared independence in 2008, with the support of the United States and its allies. Belgrade has refused to recognize the breakaway province and is backed by Russia and China, among others.

The government in Pristina claims that its order encompasses the entire province, including territories where Serbs remain in the majority. The previous attempt to impose license plate and identification rules, at the end of July, turned into a military stalemate until the US ambassador intervened and demanded a delay.

Belgrade says it wants peace but won’t allow another “pogrom” Serbs. It also accuses Pristina of failing to fulfill any of its obligations under multiple EU-brokered agreements – such as giving autonomy to the Serbs – even as it cites those agreements as justification for the crackdown on the documents.

Vucic has repeatedly said he wants Serbia to join the EU and that he will not recognize Kosovo – even if Brussels demands such recognition as a precondition for membership.

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