UK reinforcements arrive in Kosovo for NATO peacekeeping mission
The first British soldiers of a two hundred-strong deployment arrived in Pristina today to reinforce NATO’s Kosovo Force (KFOR) peacekeeping mission.
The deployment is based on a request by NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe and comes after the violent attack on Kosovo Police on 24 September and increased tensions in the region.
The soldiers from the 1st Battalion of the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment are joining a more than 400-strong British contingent already in Kosovo as part of an annual exercise. That contingent has remained in Kosovo to support stability. The peacekeeping force will include not only troops, but also hundreds of vehicles arriving by sea freight.
Under NATO command, the forces will be available to conduct operations in accordance with KFOR’s mandate to maintain a safe and secure environment and ensure freedom of movement for all people in Kosovo.
Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said:
The UK is a leading NATO Ally. Within a few days, the UK has responded to NATO’s call for reinforcements and deployed 200 additional soldiers from the First Battalion Princess of Wales’ Royal Regiment for the Kosovo Force (KFOR). This shows the agility of the UK’s Armed Forces.
As the best of the best, I know our soldiers will do the UK proud.
NATO has been leading a peacekeeping operation in Kosovo since 1999 in accordance with its mandate under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244. KFOR currently consists of more than 4,500 troops contributed by 27 NATO Allies and partners.
The UK contributes to the full spectrum of KFOR’s work, with two intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) units deployed, UK staff officers assigned to the mission headquarters as well as a Strategic Reserve Force commitment, which currently rests with the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment. The UK commitment to KFOR was extended in May 2023 when the Minister for Armed Forces James Heappey announced the UK would continue to contribute to the NATO mission until at least 2026.
The UK is also working closely with international partners to urge Kosovo and Serbia to de-escalate tensions and return to dialogue. The Prime Minister spoke to both President Vucic of Serbia and President Osmani of Kosovo, at the European Political Community meeting in Granada yesterday, encouraging de-escalation. Minister for Europe, Leo Docherty, is also due to meet Serbian and Kosovan Foreign Ministers in the Albanian capital today during a meeting of the Berlin Process, a forum focused on fostering increased regional cooperation in the Western Balkans. This builds on the work of Prime Minister’s Special Envoy to the Western Balkans, Lord Peach, who regularly engages with both Serbian and Kosovan stakeholders to promote regional stability.