RIGA - The level of threats Latvian soldiers are facing in Kosovo has not increased multiple times, but intention of the people who fired shots at patrolling Latvian troops was to reduce the peacekeepers' activities, Latvia's Chief of Defense, Lieutenant General Leonids Kalnins said, commenting a recent incident in which Latvian peacekeepers came under fire in Kosovo.
The chief of defense indicated that the situation in Kosovo has been escalating already since October over a requirement to change motor vehicles' registration plates, and municipal elections only added to the tensions in Kosovo's society.
Notwithstanding the shooting incident, Kalnins does not believe that the level of threats to the Latvian peacekeepers has substantially increased. "At any rate, this is a peacekeeping mission, there are two conflicting sides, and such incidents can be expected also in the future," Kalnins said.
Despite the incident, the Latvian soldiers will continue their mission, including patrolling. "Our goal is to complete our tasks in full together with our allies. Such an incident cannot frighten us to point where we would suddenly stop fulfilling our mission. I think that it was the shooters' intention to reduce our activities between the two conflicting sides. The task of the International Security Force (KFOR) is to ease the tension. Most probably, one of the objectives of this provocation was to get the road blocks removed, so people could move around more freely," the Latvian chief of defense explained.
On December 25, soldiers from the Latvian contingent of the NATO-led KFOR in Kosovo came under fire while on patrol. Upon their return to base, it was found that neither of the two patrol cars had been damaged.