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Kosovo acquires Turkish Bayraktar drones amid ongoing tensions in north

July 18, 2023 at 8:49 pm

Turkey’s Bayraktar TB2 drone at Gecitkale Airport, 16 December 2019 [BIROL BEBEK/AFP/Getty Images]

Kosovo has purchased a batch of Turkish Bayraktar drones in a bid to bolster and modernise its defence capabilities, amid recent tensions in the country’s north with ongoing threats from Serbia.

In a Facebook post by Kosovo’s Prime Minister, Albin Kurt, on Sunday, in which he is seen assessing a newly-acquired Bayraktar TB2 drone, he stated that Pristina has added an unspecified number of the UAVs “to the arsenal of our army, which we bought as a government from Turkiye!”

It comes amid efforts by the Kosovar government to bolster the country’s defence capabilities, with Kurt stating that “In two years of governance, we have increased the number of soldiers by over 80 per cent and the budget for the army by over 100 per cent.” He added that officers have completed the necessary training to operate the drones.

The Republic, which proclaimed independence from Serbia 15 years ago but remains unrecognised by dozens of countries, is reportedly attempting to bolster its military with the aim of attaining 5,000 regular soldiers and 3,000 reservists, who would serve alongside the over 4,500 NATO peacekeepers within the country.

Those attempts come at a time when tensions have been increasingly brewing in the north of Kosovo inn recent months, resulting in a direct clash between ethnic Serb protestors and soldiers from NATO’s KFOR unit over the appointment of three elected ethnic Albanian mayors in the Serb-dominated north.

READ: Turkiye to deploy commando battalion to northern Kosovo to help NATO