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Putin warns of 'brute force' over Kosovo


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A more friendly Russia.








February 24, 2008


RUSSIAN President Vladimir Putin has described Kosovo's declaration of independence as a "terrible precedent" that will come back to hit the West "in the face".


The comments came as Moscow stepped up its condemnation of Western support for Kosovo's secession from Serbia, with a Russian envoy warning NATO and the European Union that "brute force" might be used in the region.


Russia has vehemently opposed independence, reflecting its historical ties with Orthodox Christian Serbia, which continues to claim Kosovo as a Serbian province.


"The precedent of Kosovo is a terrible precedent, which will de facto blow apart the whole system of international relations, developed not over decades, but over centuries," Putin told a Moscow meeting of regional leaders.


"They have not thought through the results of what they are doing.


"At the end of the day it is a two-ended stick and the second end will come back and hit them in the face."


In recent weeks Russian officials have suggested that Kosovo's declaration could boost the independence claims of separatist regions in Western Europe.


Since Kosovo's ethnic-Albanian majority declared independence last Sunday, Russia has used its position as a permanent member of the UN Security Council to try to get the move declared null and void.


But with Western powers backing Kosovo's move, Moscow has taken to supporting Serbia with a string of verbal broadsides and veiled threats.


Russia's newly appointed representative to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, said support for Kosovo from the European Union or NATO would give Russia the right to use its own "brute force" in future scenarios.


"If the European Union works out a common position, or if NATO breaches its mandate in Kosovo, these organisations will be in conflict with the United Nations," Mr Rogozin was quoted as saying in a video link-up from Brussels.


"We too would then have to proceed from the view that in order to be respected we must use brute force, in other words armed force," Mr Rogozin said.


European Commission spokesman Johannes Laitenberger condemned the remarks by saying that "speculation over the use of force is certainly not helpful in this situation".


The Kremlin later downplayed the threat of military intervention with Putin's special representative for European affairs Sergei Yastrzhembsky, saying the Kosovo problem "could not have a military solution".


Source: The Sun-Herald

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Guest Sergey Lavrov

In the case of Kosovo everything happens the wrong way. In particular, the EU is unilaterally without any authorization from the UN Security Council sending a rule of law mission to Kosovo. It is, mildly speaking, a bitter irony in this name because the rule of law mission is being sent there in violation of supreme law, in violation of international law. We are being told that resolution 1244 is the basis for sending the EU mission, and that the unilateral proclamation of Kosovo’s independence does not run counter to this resolution because it speaks of a transition period and supposedly this transition period is over. That’s not true. Although resolution 1244 really speaks of a transition period, this transition period in accordance with this resolution should last until the parties reach, and I quote, a “final political settlement.” Everybody knows that the talks designed to reach that political settlement were artificially interrupted thanks to outside interference. The territorial integrity of Serbia was confirmed not only by resolution 1244, adopted in 1999, but also quite recently by another UNSC resolution which was adopted at the end of November 2007. I mean Security Council resolution 1785 in which the Council, and I quote, “reaffirmed its commitment to the political settlement of the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia, preserving the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all States there within their internationally recognized borders.” This, I repeat, was approved by the Security Council unanimously at the end of November 2007 at exactly the moment when categorical demands were coming from a whole array of western capitals to ensure unilateral independence for Kosovo, so one does not even have to prove that this is a gross violation of international law and of the Security Council’s resolution. Russia’s position is consistent, it rests on international law and in the case of Kosovo and in the case of Cyprus we favor a settlement based on the existing resolutions of the UN Security Council.

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