Russia strongly objects to EU mission in Kosovo

Russia’s top envoy to Kosovo said Monday that EU plans to send a mission to the province would be illegal without U.S. approval, the Interfax news agency reported.

The EU officials agreed to send a securing and policing mission to replace the current U.N. administrative one, which has been in place since the end of fighting in 1999.

The announcements were done amid the growing expectations that the province would declare independence – despite abjections from Russia and Serbia, the AP said.

Alexander Botsan-Kharchenko said "The structure of the international presence in Kosovo is agreed to in Security Council Resolution 1244, and it does not give the right to freely change the structure of the international presence ... That demands a decision of the Security Council"

The continuation of negotiations on Kosovo at a U.N. Security Council session on Wednesday was offered by Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica. Kosovo Albanians, backed by the U.S. and most EU states, have said the time for the talks was over.

"At the same time, it must be clear that Serbia has already rejected the creation of a puppet state on its territory," Kostunica said in a statement.

Russia appears ready to use its veto power on the U.N. Security Council to try and block Kosovo from declaring independence without Belgrade's agreement.

The Russian Foreign Ministry warned Monday that the controversy over Kosovo's status "is reaching a crisis point."

"The situation could evolve into an uncontrollable crisis if the settlement is not kept within the international legal framework," the ministry said in a statement, also blaming the West for aggravating the tensions.

"The slogan of building a multiethnic society (in Kosovo) in fact means the opposite. By encouraging the separatist aspirations of Pristina, the United States and some EU members openly ignore useful ideas suggested" during months of internationally mediated talks, it said.

"The fact that for 120 days the dialogue did not succeed in bringing the sides to compromise is used to make absurd statements that the potential of talks has exhausted itself," the ministry said.

Russia is a traditional ally of Serbia and supports Belgrade's contention that Kosovo, although overwhelmingly ethnic Albanian, is an integral part of Serbia and its culture.

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