Ammunition Aid: Kosovo’s Contribution to Ukraine’s Defence

The announcement made by Ejup Maqedonci, Kosovo's Minister of Defence, during the 20th Meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group on 19 March 2024 is a significant development in the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia. Kosovo's pledge to provide military aid to Ukraine underscores the country’s political alignment with both the European Union (EU) and the United States (US) and its willingness to join collective efforts in support of Ukraine's defence. Kosovo has committed to supply two military aid packages, which includes essential resources such as trucks, tactical vehicles, armoured personnel carriers, and mortar artillery shells. This is the first time the country has provided military assistance to Ukraine. Amidst Ukraine's acute shortage of ammunition, a confluence of factors including the political deadlock in the US Congress and production constraints in Europe have accentuated the severity of this situation. This prompts a closer examination whether Kosovo's military aid package, though undoubtedly valuable, sufficiently grapples the enormity of Ukraine’s ammunition crisis.

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Turmoil in Kosovo

On 29 May 2023, Serb protesters clashed with troops of the NATO-led mission in Kosovo* (KFOR) after demonstrators attempted to force their way into a government building in Zvecan, located in the Serb-majority northern part of the territory (Bytyci, 2023a). The clashes resulted in approximately 30 KFOR peacekeepers suffering injuries (Bytyci, 2023a). Prior to the incident, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic ordered, on 26 May, an urgent movement of troops to the border with Kosovo after ethnic Serbs had clashed with local police in the country (Al Jazeera, 2023).

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The NATO and EU Missions in Kosovo*: Drawing Lessons From the Past to Face Current

In the aftermath of the war in Kosovo, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1244 (1999), whereby a NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR) would be deployed to stabilise the region and prevent further violence. Though initially composed of around 50,000 personnel, NATO’s presence was progressively downsized as the security environment improved. The mission successfully prevented the resumption of hostilities in the Western Balkans and supported the transition towards peace and democracy in Kosovo. However, sporadic incidents of violence have often revived unresolved tensions in the country. The impossibility of reaching a consensus on Kosovo’s international status and its declaration of independence in 2008 led to an extension of KFOR’s presence in the region. As the declaration of independence threatened to trigger another wave of violence, the European Union also established the EU Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX), which focused on supporting Kosovo’s authorities in upholding the rule of law and reforming Kosovo’s police, judiciary and customs.

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The EU in Kosovo*: Consolidating European Military and Defence Identity

For decades, the European security policy has been an open question, as its highly political relevance never conceded a fully supranational approach that would enable comprehensive interoperability. All security aspects are grounded in an intergovernmental logic dating back to the conception of the ‘second pillar’ established in Maastricht in 1992. The Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) remains ‘common’ only in some aspects, leaving wide discretion to a single MS. The same was likely to be the case for the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). Being specifically designed as the military component of the CFSP, the CSDP was decisive in offering Europe the opportunity of independently taking charge of its security issues on the military level by enhancing interoperable mechanisms among national forces.

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