Putin accuses Kosovo of stirring tensions by setting up its own army

Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic after awarding him with a medal in Belgrade, Serbia, January 17, 2019. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov

BELGRADE (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday accused authorities in Kosovo of taking a series of provocative steps, including deciding to set up its own army, a move he said had ratcheted up tensions with Serbia and could destabilize the region.

Putin was speaking at a news conference in Belgrade after holding talks with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic.

Putin said he thought Kosovo’s decision to set up an army was illegal.

Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic in Belgrade and Polina Ivanova and Christian Lowe in Moscow; Writing by Andrew Osborn; Editing by Toby Chopra