CYPRUS: Russia's attitude towards the Kosovo-Serbia conflict, depending on its relations with the West

Russia's approach to the Kosovo-Serbia conflict has not been consistent and has changed depending on the evolution of the context of Russia's relations with the West. This is the main finding of the policy paper titled "Russia's Influence on the EU-Assisted Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue", which was published by the Kosovo Institute for Policy Research and Development (KIPRED) on Friday.

A KIPRED press release states that this paper analyzes the historical background of Russia's involvement in the conflict relations between Kosovo and Serbia in the wider background of the breakup of Yugoslavia; Moscow's intervention in the current dialogue process between Kosovo and Serbia, which is being developed with the help of the EU; Russia's special goals in the dialogue process; the intersection of the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia with the security, military and economic interests of Russia in the region; and the implications for Kosovo's membership in international organizations.

"The main finding highlighted in this paper is that Russia has not been consistent in its approach to the conflict between Kosovo and Serbia. "Instead, its position has changed and fluctuated depending on the evolution of the context of Russia's relations with the West," the communiqué reads.

In the communiqué, it is said that there are 8 main findings that explain the position of the Russian Federation during the entire dissolution of Yugoslavia, including the dialogue process between Kosovo and Serbia that is taking place under the umbrella of the EU and with the active support of the USA.

These are the eight findings of the report published by KIPRED

First, during the Yeltsin era, Russia's approach to the crisis in the former Yugoslavia in general, including Kosovo, reflected Moscow's bewilderment about its own country in a profoundly new international environment that was emerging with the end of the Cold War. Cold. Russia's policies towards the disintegration of the former Yugoslavia, including Kosovo, during this period were shaped by two factors: first, Russia's general relations with the West; second, the views of key foreign policy decision-makers in Moscow (namely, Kozyrev versus Primakov).

Second, with the outbreak of the war in Kosovo, Russia was part of all major international efforts to resolve the crisis. Thus, Russia supported three UNSC resolutions on Kosovo, adopted under Chapter VII of the Charter, but refused to allow the Security Council to explicitly authorize NATO intervention to stop Serbia's mass atrocities. in Kosovo. With the end of the war in Kosovo, in June 1999, Russia voted in favor of Resolution 1244 (1999) of the UNSC, which provided for the withdrawal of the entire state and security apparatus of FRY/Serbia from Kosovo and placed Kosovo under international administration (including the NATO-led peace enforcement mission).

Third, Russia did not accept the final results of the international peace efforts for Kosovo, and that mainly as a reaction from its general dissatisfaction with the West. Thus, Russia played a key role within the Contact Group during the Rambouillet Conference in February 1999. However, Russia withdrew its support for the Rambouillet Agreement by not participating in the signing ceremony in Paris. . The same scenario was repeated during the Vienna talks on the final status of Kosovo in 2006–2007. Russia was an active part of this process, but at the last moment, it refused to approve in the UNSC the proposal for resolving the status of Kosovo, presented by the UN Envoy, Martti Ahtisaari.

Fourth, while off the negotiating table, in the EU-facilitated dialogue that began in March 2011, the main goal of the Russian Federation was to prevent and hinder the successful conclusion of the dialogue process, trying to discredit the EU and the West, and to return that role to the UN Security Council.

Fifth, Moscow does not see the dialogue process as isolated from its overall geopolitical goals in the Balkans – and specifically from keeping Serbia and the Serbs within the Russian orbit and preventing EU and NATO expansion in the region. . Despite the fact that Serbia is in the process of negotiations for EU membership, it has refused to align its foreign policy with that of the EU in relation to Russia.

Sixth, the war in Ukraine has revealed the depth of political, security and economic relations between Russia and Serbia, which have been further strengthened with the coming to power of Vučić's Serbian Progressive Party and Dačić's Socialist Party in 2012. Russia tries to use the case of Kosovo, namely the intervention of NATO in 1999 and the declaration of independence in 2008, as a bargaining chip for the accumulation of benefits in Ukraine and Georgia, to legitimize its annexation wars.

Seventh, the lack of unanimity within the Euro-Atlantic community towards Kosovo – with five EU countries still not recognizing Kosovo's independence – has created more room for maneuver for Russia to thwart Western efforts and persistently engaged in the destruction of the foundations of Kosovo's citizenship and the destabilization of the region. This space is created by the fact that for the integration of Kosovo in the EU and NATO, prior membership in the UN is not necessary, where Russia has the right of veto in the Security Council.

Eighth, an important impetus for Russia to influence the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue is its power to block Kosovo's membership in the UN and the OSCE - Kosovo's unhindered membership in international organizations is one of the key pillars of the Brussels agreements/ Ohrid, of 2023.