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Kosovo Independence Drive Creates A Huge U.S.-Russia Riff

The continued desire of the leadership of Kosovo to seek independence continues to create a serious riff in the relations of the United States and Russia that further inspires a new Cold Warlike environment. Serbia and their Russia allies continue to strongly oppose any drive for independence for Kosovo, only viewing such independence as the further peeling off of more former Eastern European states into the Western hemisphere of political influence. There are also serious ethnic issues at stake as well.

After the breakup of the Eastern European Communist world, Yugoslavia soon became a prime friction point for various East-West political tensions as well as serious ethnic tensions including the ugly "ethnic cleansing" problems against the Muslim minority in some parts of Yugoslavia in which rape and other horrible human rights crimes became used as a military weapons to intimidate and force the removal of Muslims from greater Yugoslavia. Bosnia became an independent largely Muslim state as a response to this continued ethnic violence. And Germany had much influence over Croatia becoming an independent state. But Kosovo now continues the remain the last disputed state as the breakup of the former Yugoslavia continues.

Since the 78 day 1999 air war against Yugoslavia launched by the U.S. meant to end the continued ethnic slaughter in Kosovo, the United Nations has been charged with largely managing the peacekeeping in this area. However, a continued political drive for this largely ethnic Albanian state has continued to inspire a sharp conflict between the U.S. and Russia. The small Serbian minority living in Kosovo also fears any arrangement that further divorces them from greater Serbia as well.

More meetings will be held in London this week to further discuss this sticky issue of Kosovo independence. However, these meetings are set to end on December 10, leaving a timeline for a resolution broadly acceptable to all sides with only a small time frame for settlement. And Serbia strongly continues to oppose any solution that it views as an attack on the Sovereignty of their state.

Russia continues to view any issue of the independence of Kosovo as a serious matter that it would be willing to present as a conflict to the U.N. Security Council. A plan that was viewed as something of a compromise that allowed Kosovo to become independent but allowed for a continued international presence to protect the safety of the Serbian minority was blocked by Russia once before. But the United States and the European Union continue to back plans that call for the independence of Kosovo while Russia continues to oppose such efforts.

Roughly 16,000 mainly NATO peacekeepers remain in Kosovo after the 1999 air war. After the 78 day air war, NATO was taken by surprise when a large contingent of about 3,600 Russian troops quickly deployed into Kosovo and have remained there ever since. Both Russia and NATO seemed to have protected their political interests by quickly moving their military forces into Kosovo, although such efforts have considerably limited any violence in this area. It also has many lessons for Iraq, where any international peacekeeping could well continue for many years, especially when the sectarian violence in Iraq continues at such high levels.

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Comments (5)


re: Belgium splitting
not likely to happen, sounds kinda like Canada/Quebec to me.

Kosovo has seen serious ethnic issues since the days of the Crusades, if not earlier. the actions of Tito, the Serbs, and the Russians didn't help things either.

the problem of these sectarian conflicts is that countries like Yugoslavia and Iraq were not countries that developed through any natural means of mutual interest or through conquest, but were instead created out of thin air. the only thing that kept them from flying apart were the dictators. once they were gone, the centrifugal forces of religion and ethnicity were going to pull them apart.

I deeply appreciate the serious thought that my feature has raised both Larkin and Ke_Future. Thank you so much for your excellent opinions on this deeply serious issue. I love offering foreign policy commentary features and your excellent responses make my efforts seem worthwhile to pen such features.

Any keen sense of history is just one of many missing factors from our current White House administration's foreign policy strengths.


Russians withdrew the troops from Kosovo in 2003.

As a matter of principles, the right to self determination was denied to all nations (six major ethnic communities that formed former Yugoslavia) that were not placed within the artificial borders of their ethnic mainland. Consequently, Serbs were denied the right of selfdetermination in Croatia and Bosnia in the territories where they formed majority, while Croats were denied selfdetermination in Bosnia (they actually haven't claimed it for tatctical reasons and their alliance with the Bosnian Muslims against the Serbs - they claim it now).

As an example, if once ethnic majority in California is reached by Latinos, they would vote to seceede from U.S., but supposed loyalist Gringo majority in the North Californa would not be allowed to seceede from California and remain within U.S. (that explains Bosnia). But the Latinos in Texas and New Mexico would not be allowed to take parts of Texas and New Mexico and join it with California. Inviolability of state borders would apply.

But exactly opposite principles were tried to be applied over Kosovo, that was always province, and not a republic. Besides, K-Albanians were never a constituent nation (a major ethnic community), than a minority having its state - neighbooring Albania.

As an example, a majority of Asians in Alaska would be allowed to take a part of it and declare independence upon an intervention and occupation of a foreign military, regardless the majority of Alaskans would be loyalist. That explains Kosovo.

Such "principled" approach would leave Serbs as the largest ethnic group (nation) in the Balkans having the smallest state and is quite in line with U.S. interest there, as explained by Strobe Talbot ("it was Serbia's resistence to broader political trends that best explains U.S. war over KOsovo, not the violation of human rights of K-Albanians...") and recently by Bolton ("State Dept is pursuing anti-Serbian policy as from the beggining of breakup of Yugoslavia"). Do a google search after the keywords.

The main reasons for breakup of Yugoslavia were the meddling of West, and particularly U.S., that used an ancient "divide et conquora" tactics.

War crimes in Bosnia (though they sadly occurred) were grossly exagerrated by western press, as showed in the proceedings even before the cangaroo court ICTY (that was established as a political the tool to keep pressure on Serbs according to the first president of the Court Antonio Cassese - another google search recommended). Violation of "human rights" of K-Albanians is a myth and was never proved before the mentioned ICTY. There is no more than 1,5 million K-Albanians, 2 million is another myth.

Serbia does not agree with its own partition, not to mention the same principle hasn't been applied to the Serbs in Bosnia and Croatia that would prevent clashes and years of wars in the Balkans. At the moment it's not clear if it will send the Army to Kosovo immediatelly upon proclamation of independence, but this is inevitable in the long run.

Hope this helps, as the correction of one factual error and an offer of a Serbian account.

BTW, Serbs and U.S. used to be allies in two World wars, while present U.S. allies in the Balkans - Croats, Bosnian Muslims and K-Albanians were the allies of Hitler.

Hardly would Serbs be allies to U.S. ever again.


nother factual correction of ke_future's post.

At the time of Crusades there was no ethnic issues in Kosovo, which was the hartland of Serbs at that time, as witnessed by many Serbian Orthodox churches and monasteries there.

Since (Orthodox Christian) Serbs joined (Catholic) Austrians in their war against (Muslim) Ottoman Turks in expelling them from the gates of Vienna in the late 17th century, once the Austrians withdrew from present day Serbia, Ottoman Turks incited and allowed terror against such a rebellion and disloyal ethnic group within their Empire. They brought Albanians from Albania (having been islamized during the previous centuries), whom had the status of a (Muslim) Ottoman to expell (dhimmi - Christian) Serbs from Kosovo. Terror was in killing (often by impalement) of men, rape of women and devshirme of children. Many Serbs fleed to than Austria (now Croatia and Hungary) where they entered military and used to serve as a barrier against renewed conquest of Turks in the parts known as (military) Krajina (from where they were expelled in 1990's by the Croats under the auspicies of the West and particularly U.S.). Still, there was the majority of Christians Serbs in Kosovo for a long time while Albanian majority occured by expulsions in WW2, under the auspicies of Germans and Italians and subsequent communist rule (under communist leader being Catholic Croat Tito) that forbade the return of ww2 Serbian refugees and allowed several thousands Albanians from Albania to immigree in 1950's, 1960'2 and 1970's, inciting new wave of violence against the remaining Serbs.

Finalle was 1999 NATO bombing.

Check for the facts at wikipedia.


Thanks, just_a_serb. Very informative.

The Clinton-USA war on Serbia was indeed infuriating.

I think the "West" has had it in for the Eastern Orthodox peoples since Russia interfered with the plans of the Big Two (Britain and France) to break up the US during the American Civil War.

France had invaded Mexico (eventually installing the Hapsburg Maximilian as king) while England concentrated more levied troops on the Canadian border, meanwhile both placing economic sanctions on the North while supplying the South. Alexander II broke the economic blockade.

Then there was the invented and backdated Secrets of Fatima crusade against Russia (1941) which included the Serbs as targets. That's when the Nazi armies painted the iron crosses on its tanks white. The Teutonic Knights as warriors for Rome. The Croatian Ustachi were the worst.



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Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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