The UK government has extended its commitment to the Nato Kosovo Force (KFOR) until a least 2026. The Minister of the Armed Forces, James Heappey, announced the pledge while on a visit to the Balkans last week.
The mission began in 1999 when a United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 mandated a Nato force. The force was assigned to bring peace and stability to the country after the conflict in the 1990s.
As of today, Nato says that approximately 3,800 troops provided by 27 countries help ensure that KFOR’s objectives are met. The coalition of countries includes: Italy, Turkey, Poland, the US and the UK among others.
Kosovan force capability
UK forces have worked to enhance KFOR’s intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capability, significantly increasing the mission commanders’ situational awareness.
The UK Ministry of Defence told Army Technology that “the UK currently has 41 members of the armed forces deployed to Nato’s KFOR, this includes Staff officers and ISR capability.
“The UK’s support also includes a battalion-sized high readiness Strategic Reserved Force based in the UK, ready to deploy at short notice. This has not been activated.”
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GlobalData intelligence tells us that Kosovo currently uses the AeroVironment RQ-20 Puma long-endurance uncrewed aerial system (UAS) for its ISR operations. Data suggests that we can expect the country to double spending on the UAS to $2m from 2026.
The healing Balkans as part of a wider Euro-Atlantic lens
“Kosovo is an important partner for the UK. We were one of the first countries to recognise their independence in 2008 and UK forces have a key role in the region, contributing to security,” the UK MoD told Army Technology.
Bolstering Kosovan security is just one part of the MoD’s grand vision for shaping the global strategic environment. The department asserted that “the security and prosperity of the Euro-Atlantic will remain our core priority” in the Integrated Review Refresh, published in March this year.
Heapey also visited Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) on Monday, where he met the Minister of Defence, Zukan Helez; the Chief of Armed Forces General Senad Masovic; Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Josip Brkic; as well as the Commanders of EUFOR and the Nato headquarters in Sarajevo.
Discussions focussed on BiH’s progress toward Euro-Atlantic alignment and on the UK’s enduring support for the country’s security and sovereignty. The MoD says this includes joint training, the provision of equipment and the exchange of expertise.