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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