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Europe

Russia Calls the EU's Planned Mission to Kosovo Illegal

Russia said on Wednesday, Feb. 20, that sending an EU mission to Kovoso would be a breach of international law, and called the plan symbolic of the West's double standard in recognizing Kosovo's independence from Serbia.

The Serbian, Russian and EU flags

Serbia, Russia and the EU are at odds over Kosovo

The European Union has already agreed to send a mission to Kosovo, consisting of some 2,000 police officers, justice and customs officials to aid and train authorities there and help stabilize the region following Kosovo's declaration of independence.

Russia on Wednesday said Kosovo's proclamation of independence was a "gross violation" of international law and said the EU mission had no legal basis since the decision was made without approval from the U.N. Security Council.

"The European Union, unilaterally, and without any sanction from the UN Security Council, is sending a mission to Kosovo to ensure the supremacy of the law," Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters at a news briefing with Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan.

"To put it mildly, it is a bitter irony that this mission to ensure the supremacy of the law in Kosovo is being sent in breach of the highest international law," he continued.

Fear separatist tension will spread

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov

Lavrov also repeated at the news conference Russia's prior argument that existing Security Council resolutions say that Kosovo is part of Serbia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin had already said last week that the West was guilty of double standards in pushing for Kosovo's independence, a charge Lavrov reiterated.

Furthermore, Russian said the West's recognition of independence would stir up strife in the Balkans and would open up a "Pandora's box" of separatist tension across Europe.

Even the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church said Kosovo's independence bring about disorder.

"It is an ... event which has unilaterally upset the balance in the world and could lead to very tragic events in a whole host of areas across the globe where separatist sentiments are warming up," Patriarch Alexiy II said.

"Former brutality negates moral rights"

Russia is a close Serbian ally, and as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, opposed Kosovo from making its split from Belgrade.

Kosovo delared its independence on Sunday, with the United States and many of Europe's largest nations, including Germany, having recognized the state. Serbia has since recalled its ambassador from Berlin.

Kosovo Albanians in Europe in bright red shirts celebrating Kosovo's declaration of independence on Sunday

Kosovo Albanians in Europe even celebrated Sunday's declaration of independence

The West has maintained that Serbia relinquished the moral right to rule the people of Kosovo due to brutality under the late Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic.

Serbs, however, see Kosovo as the cradle of their culture and the region is home to numerous Orthodox monasteries, prompting Serbs to say they will never surrender the province.

The EU is expected to deploy its mission by June. Authorities are to help oversee institution-building, and would have limited rights to help fight organized crime and corruption or track down war criminals.

Kosovo has been a UN protectorate since 1999 when NATO carried out bombing raids to end a conflict between Serbian security forces and ethnic Albanian separatists. Technically, however, it remained part of Serbia.

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