After Serbian tabloids accused Russia of betraying Serbia over the Kosovo issue, in order to justify its claims to eastern Ukraine, Russia’s Ambassador to Serbia has insisted that Moscow’s Kosovo policy remains the same.

Russian Ambassador to Serbia Denies Change in Putin’s Kosovo Policy

Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (right) meet in the Kremlin, April 26 2022. Photo: EPA-EFE/VLADIMIR ASTAPKOVICH / KREMLIN POOL / SPUTNIK MANDATORY CREDIT

Russia has denied changing its attitude towards Kosovo and will not recognize it as an independent state, Russia’s ambassador to Serbia, Alexander Bocan Harchenko, confirmed on Thursday evening.

Bocan Harchenko said Russia’s stance over the former Serbian province that declared independence in 2008 was “durable, long lasting and confirmed several times”.

“Of course, there are no changes at all, Russia is consistent, does not recognize Kosovo, seeks the implementation of [UN] Resolution 1244, which remains, in our opinion and according to international law, the basis for regulating the issue of Kosovo,“ he told Insajder Television.

UN Security Council resolution 1244 made Kosovo a ward of the UN in 1999 after NATO air strikes forced Serbian forces to withdraw.

His interview came after Serbian tabloids, traditionally supportive of Russia and even more of Russian president Vladimir Putin, published angry front pages accusing Putin of planning to dump Russia’s position over Kosovo in exchange for Western recognition of Russian claims in Ukraine’s.

Srpski Telegraf reported: “Putin stabs Serbia in the back, trades Kosovo for Donbas”; Kurir run a headline: “Plain interest“, adding: “Putin’s statement protects Russia’s interests in Donetsk and Lugansk, not taking into account Serbia’s position in Kosovo“. Informer’s front page read: “World conflict over our backs, Putin is playing on Kosovo”, while Blic ran a headline: “Putin forgot Serbs and Kosovo because of his war“.

The attacks on Putin followed a meeting between Putin and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in Moscow on Tuesday, when Putin likened Russia’s claim to Crimea and eastern Ukraine to Kosovo’s claim for independence from Serbia.

He said that in 2014, when Russia seized Crimea from Ukraine, the people of Crimea had “acted in practically the same way as the people living in Kosovo; they made a decision on independence”.

Putin had already compared Kosovo with Crimea before, in 2014.

Putin further said that he was “well versed in the documents of the International Court [of Justice] on the situation in Kosovo“, which failed to condemn Kosovo’s unlilateral independence.

“I remember very well the decision by the International Court [of Justice, from 2010], which states that when fulfilling its right to self-determination a territory within any state does not have to seek permission from the country’s central government in order to proclaim its sovereignty.

“This was the ruling on Kosovo, and this is what the International Court [of Justice] decided, and everyone supported it,“ Putin said.

“If so, the Donbas republics, the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Lugansk People’s Republic [in eastern Ukraine], can enjoy the same right, without seeking permission from Ukraine’s central government and declare their sovereignty, since the precedent has been created,“ he added.

However, on Thgursday, Bocan Harchenko denied that Russia was selling out Serbia over Kosovo in order to defend its claims in Ukraine.

He said he did not understand “why there is an interpretation as if Russia is changing its attitude towards Kosovo, towards Serbia, while Kosovo is one of the foundations and the essential issue of our friendly and fraternal cooperation”.

Kosovo declared independence in 2008, despite UN resolution 1244, and has since been recognised as independent by most Western countries though not by four EU member states, Greece, Cyprus, Spain and Slovakia.

Serbia relies on Russia and China using their veto powers in UN Security Council not to allow Kosovo to join the UK and gain full international recognition.

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