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Sergei Lavrov (Photo Credit: Mikhail Tereshchenko/TASS)

Russia is double checking reports that mercenaries are being sent from Kosovo, Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina to Donbass, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with RT television, which was published on the ministry’s website on Friday.

“There’s information that mercenaries are being recruited in Kosovo, Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina to knock Russia out of balance and send them to places including Donbass,” he said. “We are now double checking that.”

Lavrov said mercenaries are also being recruited in the Western Balkans to participate in conflicts that are stoked by countries including the United States. He said the region hasn’t prospered after NATO’s intervention in the Yugoslavia crisis at the end of the 20th century.

Lavrov said that German Chancellor Olaf Scholz insisted that “NATO intervened to prevent the genocide of the Kosovo Albanians, and they did it so well that the region is now prospering.”

“It is far from prosperous,” Lavrov said. “Kosovo and some other parts of the Western Balkans are becoming a breeding ground for crime. There are terrorists and drug dealers there.”

According to him, “to say that NATO invaded Yugoslavia with noble goals is incorrect and unethical at the very least.” The minister said the reason that was voiced before the start of the bombing of Yugoslavia was fabricated.

“We know well what served as the reason for the bombing: American citizen W. Volker led the OSCE mission in Kosovo. It was a period of fighting. At some point, he gathered journalists and announced for television cameras that 30 bodies of civilians, tortured by Serbs, were found in the village of Racak,” Lavrov said. “It served as a trigger for the bombings.”

He said an investigation later found the bodies belonged to militants that were killed in combat, rather than civilians.