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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia Worried By Kosovo-Macedonia Border Clash

Russia said Tuesday it was worried by a clash between gunmen in Kosovo and Macedonian security forces and accused Albanian extremists of trying to destabilise the region.

Macedonian army and police exchanged fire with gunmen shooting from ethnic Albanian-dominated Kosovo Monday. The clash was north of Skopje in a largely Albanian area and came after other recent violent incidents in and around Kosovo.

"The actions of the gunmen are aimed at provoking a crisis situation and destabilising the internal political situation in this country (Macedonia)," said the Russian Foreign Ministry.

It said in a statement that clashes such as that which took place on Monday were part of ethnic Albanian nationalist plans.

"The continuation of such a situation threatens the security and stability of the whole region," the ministry added.

"Russia believes an effective hurdle to extremists' actions would be a confirmation by the international community of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all the states of the region in question," it said.

Russia, long linked to Serbia by ethnic and religious ties, has worked with NATO in providing peacekeeping troops for Kosovo but has often criticised what it sees as the West's lenient attitude to Albanian nationalists. It has also called for greater steps to protect the remaining Serbs in the region.

A bomb attack on a bus in Kosovo in early February killed at least 10 people, part of a surge in violence in and around the U.N.-administered region.