With NATO and the United States increasingly hawkish over making Ukraine the next battleground, some Balkan countries are already offering their services in any US-led conflict against Russia.
US President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin were due to talk on Tuesday; Ursula Von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, warned that any Russian “aggression” against Ukraine would not go unanswered.
“We will respond to any further aggressions by scaling-up and expanding existing sanctions,” Von der Leyen said.
While the US and NATO look unlikely to mount a major military response to a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine, Kosovo’s defence ministry said it stood ready to help anyway.
“The US, as our main and irreplaceable strategic ally, knows best the operational capabilities and capacities of the Kosovo Security Forces, and if they assess that our capacities can be engaged, as we have always pledged, we will be ready to be alongside them in any operation in the service of regional peace, security and stability,” Colonel Sefer Isufi, Head of Strategic Communication at Kosovo’s Ministry of Defence told BIRN, noting that the Kosovo force had “actively participated” with NATO in the evacuation of refugees from Afghanistan.
“Wherever the US is, there is Kosovo!” Isufi said.
Kosovo is not a member of NATO, in part because four of the Western alliance’s 30 member states – Romania, Spain, Slovakia and Greece – do not recognise the former Serbian province as independent. Nor does Ukraine.
Albania, which joined NATO in 2009, has also hinted it was ready to take part in any future US led NATO mission in Ukraine.
“Albania’s Armed Forces will support any decision the US and NATO take,” Armed Forces Colonel Ardian Lulaj told Tirana-based Report TV on Monday.
“If requested, we will join because participation in NATO is not only about receiving but also about giving,” he said. “I assure you that soldiers are always ready.”
Montenegro and Macedonia are both also members of NATO but did not respond to BIRN questions concerning the situation in Ukraine.