Serbia has placed its security forces on the border with Kosovo in a “full state of combat readiness”, senior officials have said

amid increasingly strained relations with its neighbour and despite calls by the European Union and NATO for tensions to ease between the once wartime foes.

“Serbia’s president … ordered the Serbian army to be on the highest level of combat readiness, that is to the level of the use of armed force,” Serbia’s Defence Minister Milos Vucevic said

He added that Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic also ordered the special armed forces to be beefed up from the existing 1,500 to 5,000, Vucevic said.

He said in a statement that he acted on the orders of President Vucic so that “all measures be taken to protect the Serbian people in Kosovo”.

The orders from Vucic come after Serbian army chief General Milan Mojsilovic was dispatched to the border with Kosovo on Sunday

though it was not immediately clear what the new orders mean on the border where Serbian troops have been on alert for some time.