Russia to challenge Kosovo’s unilateral independence move

By RIA Novosti

Moscow : Russia has said it will challenge any unilateral move by Kosovo to break away from Serbia and declare independence.

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“A unilateral declaration of independence would be in breach of UN Security Council Resolution 1244. In this event, Russia would demand a revocation and nullification of the decision,” Alexander Botsan-Kharchenko, Russia’s envoy to the international troika on Kosovo’s future status, said Monday.

The diplomat’s comments came as the leader of Kosovo said they were preparing for early independence following the expiry of the Dec 10 deadline set by the UN for an agreement on the future status of Kosovo.

The leaders of Albanian-dominated province have reportedly begun talks with Western powers on declaration of independence.

The envoy said the discussions were non-official, and that a formal debate at the UN Security Council was set for Dec 19.

He said Western partners do not want the failed negotiations between Serb and Kosovo Albanian leaders to continue.

“We know about this, but we have our own position, and we will stand by it,” he said.

The contact group, also known as troika, on Kosovo comprising Russia, the US and the EU Friday submitted to the UN Security Council a report saying the parties had failed to reach an agreement after 120 days of intensive negotiations.

At the latest talks in Austria in late November, Kosovo continued to insist on full independence, while Belgrade was willing to offer the province only broad autonomy.

Kosovo had earlier said it would declare independence unilaterally if no compromise were found by the deadline. Its stance has been backed by Washington and some European countries while Russia has warned of a chain reaction if the province permanently breaks away from Serbia.

Kosovo has been a UN protectorate since 1999, when NATO’s bombing of the former Yugoslavia ended a bloody war between Serb forces and ethnic Albanians.