In a tense exchange at the State Department briefing room on Monday, Ksenija Pavlovic McAteer, Founder and CEO of The Pavlovic Today, confronted Press Secretary Matt Miller over conflicting statements regarding the Serbian troop levels on the border with Kosovo.
“The Serbs said that they told the White House on Friday that the troops were decreasing and then you have even Serbian President going on the record saying that last year, they had 14,000 troops. That right now the number was 7500. And now he’s reducing to 4000,” Pavlovic McAteer asserted.
She questioned Miller, “Why did you then issue a statement, saying troops are increasing when he [President of Serbia] told you that they were decreasing?”
Pavlovic McAteer referred to the fact that the phone call Secretary Blinken had with President Vučić on Friday was hours prior to when the White House statement was made.
Miller, evidently under pressure, responded, “Because we did see a certain increase of Serbian forces at the border. Now with respect to whether they are decreasing since Friday? We’ve seen reports but as I said, we have not yet verified.”
Persistent in her pursuit of answers, Pavlovic McAteer continued, “Did Joe Biden sign off on these exact words when the statement went out?”
Miller replied, “So I’m not going to speak to internal deliberations inside the government, but I can tell you we have confidence in what we said.”
Attempting to follow up on her line of questioning, Pavlovic McAteer was abruptly interrupted as Miller called on another reporter, raising concerns about unequal allocation of time in the briefing room. “It’s important, please,” she insisted.
“It’s always busier on Monday,” said Miller despite giving other correspondents more questions at the time.
Pavlovic McAteer, undeterred, responded, “Yeah, but there is an important issue here, you know,” drawing attention to the critical nature of the matter at hand amid the ongoing crisis in northern Kosovo.
The Pavlovic Today will be back in the briefing room to raise more questions.
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