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President of Kosovo Hashim Thaci (C) at a state ceremony after parliament passed a law creating a 5,000-strong standing army. Photo: Erkin Keci/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Kosovo voted last Friday to create a standing army. The move comes a decade after independence from Serbia, which was enraged by the move and went so far as to threaten military intervention.

The big picture: Kosovo's vote has divided the international community, writes Ryan Scherba of Balkan Insider.

  • Serbia immediately called for a UN Security Council meeting — with support from Russia — where the Serbian and Kosovar presidents traded barbs on the world stage.
  • The U.S. Embassy in Kosovo released a statement fully supporting the transformation of the Kosovo Security Force (KSF) into an army.
  • NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg called the formation of the army “ill-timed.” The EU shared that view, stating: “The mandate of the KSF should only be changed through an inclusive and gradual process in accordance with Kosovo Constitution.”

Between the lines: The increase in the capacities of the KSF has been fraught with controversy. Some states, like Russia and Serbia, contend that it violates international law, while the U.S. and many EU countries consider it a sovereign right for Kosovo. Some of the hesitation from the international community is because Kosovo is bypassing a change to its constitution, which would be blocked by Kosovo Serb representatives.

What to watch: President Trump penned a letter to Kosovo's president urging him to agree to a comprehensive solution with his Serbian counterpart — and to sign it at the White House.

Go deeper

Biden transition names first Cabinet nominees

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden on Monday unveiled his nominations for top national security positions in his administration, tapping former secretary of state John Kerry as his climate czar and former deputy national security adviser Avril Haines as director of national intelligence.

Why it matters: Haines, if confirmed, would make history as the first woman to oversee the U.S. intelligence community. Biden also plans to nominate Alejandro Mayorkas to become the first Latino secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

New deals in the COVID economy

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

COVID-19 is the macro horror of our lifetimes, and has destroyed or severely damaged countless businesses. But, like with most horribles, it also has created some opportunities.

Driving the news: Merck this morning announced an agreement to buy OncoImmune, a Maryland-based biotech that showed promising late-stage clinical results for a therapy that treats severe and critical coronavirus cases.

3 hours ago - Technology

Biden's openings for tech progress

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images 

Item No. 1 on President-elect Joe Biden's day-one tech agenda, controlling the flood of misinformation online, offers no fast fixes — but other tech issues facing the new administration hold out opportunities for quick action and concrete progress.

What to watch: Closing the digital divide will be a high priority, as the pandemic has exposed how many Americans still lack reliable in-home internet connections and the devices needed to work and learn remotely.