Germany to send 150 soldiers to Kosovo in April
PHOTO CAPTION: Representational photo — A soldier of the special forces unit KSK of Germany's army Bundeswehr holds a G95/HK416 rifle during a training exercise in Calw, Germany, October 24, 2022. REUTERS/Heiko Becker
BERLIN (Reuters) -Germany will send around 150 soldiers to Kosovo in April next year as a contribution to the UN's KFOR mission there, a spokesperson for the defence ministry said in Berlin on Friday.
The spokesperson stressed that the decision had nothing to do with current tensions in northern Kosovo and instead was taken to compensate for the withdrawal of Austrian troops.
The additional troops will not increase the overall size of KFOR, added the spokesperson. About 3,400 soldiers in total are currently stationed in Kosovo as part of the KFOR mission.
Germany's Bundeswehr army has 71 soldiers there currently, according to the ministry.
"The decision about a change in the balance of forces at KFOR is always made through a multinational decision-making process," said the spokesperson when asked how the ministry would react if the situation escalated before April.
News magazine Spiegel first reported on the deployment.
A deadly gun battle between Kosovo forces and armed Serbs last month fuelled fears of an escalation in the ethnic Serbian-majority region 15 years after Pristina declared independence.
(Reporting by Andreas Rinke and Alexander RatzWriting by Matthias Williams and Miranda MurrayEditing by Rachel More)