Germany’s defence minister, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, has warned of Russia’s and China’s growing influence in the Western Balkans.

“We know that the entire region is regarded with particular interest by China, but also by Russia”, she said during a visit to the headquarters of the German contingent of the Kosovo Force – KFOR, on 1 December.

KFOR, the NATO-led international peacekeeping force, entered Kosovo two decades ago, amidst the breakup of the former Yugoslavia.

Kramp-Karrenbauer called the troop presence a “special sign that we want to safeguard the progress made over the last 20 years, and for the future”.

She will also visit Afghanistan, where she will meet with soldiers from the German armed forces.