Members of the Russian mercenary Wagner Group work with Serbian paramilitaries to smuggle weapons in Kosovo for a potential hybrid attack by Serbia to grab Kosovan territory, Kosovo’s President Vjosa Osmani told The Telegraph.
Serbia’s objective is allegedly to “prepare situations for a possible annexation,” Osmani said, an aim it wants to achieve without naming it a military operation.
The alleged secret operation that includes smuggling unmarked military uniforms is similar to Russia’s annexation of Ukraine's Crimea in 2014 when Russian soldiers invaded Crimea without chevrons on their uniforms.
The Wagner Group is Russia’s most high-profile mercenary group that was founded by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a Russian oligarch and an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The group is known for its human rights abuses all over the world. It has been accused of human rights abuses in Ukraine, Syria, Libya, the Central African Republic, Sudan, and Mozambique, including torture and extrajudicial killings.
On Feb. 6, Ukraine’s parliament recognized Wagner as an international criminal organization and called on foreign governments to do the same.
On Jan. 26, the U.S. Treasury Department designated Wagner Group mercenaries as a “significant transnational criminal organization” and imposed sanctions on its support network worldwide.
“Wagner personnel have engaged in an ongoing pattern of serious criminal activity, including mass executions, rape, child abductions, and physical abuse in the Central African Republic and Mali,” the U.S. Treasury Department said.
The sanctions announced by the U.S. on Jan. 26 target “six individuals and 12 entities” connected to Russia’s defense industry, along with allies and family members of Putin.