Retired US General Wesley Clark, NATO commander during the 1999 Kosovo War, has accused Russia of keeping the Balkans as a ‘crisis in waiting,’ raising an alarm over one humanitarian base entirely surrounded by NATO countries.
Clark was in Kosovo this week along with other leading figures from the conflict, to mark the 20th anniversary of NATO troops occupying the Serbian province on behalf of the ethnic Albanian “Kosovo Liberation Army.” While he did not get a medal, like former US President Bill Clinton, or a statue like former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, the retired general was interviewed by the government TV station RTK about his vision for the region.
Speaking with RTK’s Evliana Berani, Clark described NATO’s presence in Kosovo as an “important continuing commitment” that’s helping peace and stability in the Balkans – but warned that a threat from Russia was looming over the region.
“This is all about Mr. Putin having an opportunity… It’s like a crisis in waiting, it’s an opportunity he puts on a shelf. And at any point when he needs a crisis, he can start a crisis: maybe here, maybe in Ukraine, maybe in the Baltics,” Clark told RTK in an interview that aired on Wednesday evening’s newscast.
He pointed to the Russian “base” in the Serbian city of Nis, a humanitarian and emergency response center that “has the command and control necessary to do anything else that could be done,”President Vladimir Putin’s recent visit to Serbia, and Serbian purchases of Russian military technology.