Russian Aid Enters North Kosovo, Ending Standoff

Posted December 16th, 2011 at 12:40 pm (UTC-5)
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Aid from Russia is finally making its way to minority Serbs in northern Kosovo, ending a tense four-day standoff.

A convoy of almost 25 trucks passed through the border crossing at Jarinje Friday, escorted by European Union police.

The convoy had been held up as a result of an ongoing dispute between Serbia, which has close ties to Moscow, and Kosovo, which separated from Serbia and declared independence in 2008. Neither Serbia nor Russia recognize Kosovo, and the Russian convoy had refused to enter the region through any crossing directly controlled by Kosovo.

The Associated Press said several thousand ethnic Serbs greeted the convoy in the town of Mitrovica. In addition to the aid, Russia's ambassador to Serbia also gave ethnic Serb religious leaders an orthodox church icon.

The ongoing tensions between Belgrade and Kosovo cost Serbia a chance at European Union membership last week. EU leaders delayed any decision on granting Serbia the status of membership candidate until March, citing the dispute.

Ethnic Serbs in Kosovo, supported by Belgrade, have been setting up roadblocks in the border area since July.