Russia, which has used its UN Security Council veto powers to stall Kosovo independence, promised to go one step further. If the rebel province declares independence from Serbia, Russia will see to it that the country is shut out of international groups.
Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin said on Wednesday, Jan. 16, Kosovo "would not become members of the United Nations, they would not become members of international political institutions if they go down the road of unilateral declarations."
Serbian President Boris Tadic confirmed those sentiments the same day in a speech to the UN Security Council vowing that his country would never recognize the country's sovereignty.
Talks between Serbian and Kosovar leaders held in 2006 and 2007 failed to bring the hostile sides any closer to a mutually acceptable outcome of the province.
The US and Britain reaffirmed their support for Kosovo's independence at a UN Security Council meeting Wednesday. The meeting replayed a December debate about Kosovo's future. The UN and NATO have administered the province since 1999.
Kosovo remains resolute
Russian and Serbian threats have failed to dissuade Kosovo from pushing for independence. The newly-elected government has indicated the country will declare independence after the first round of elections in Serbia's presidential race on Jan. 20.
"I am sure that the decision will be taken very soon," Kosovo's newly elected Prime Minister Hashim Thaci said in addressing the UN body Wednesday.
Kosovo is counting on backing from the US and Europe, which have both said they would support a plan for European Union-supervised independence.
Russia warns of "international precedent"
Any resolution on Kosovo's status requires both Belgrade and Pristina's support, Russian President Vladimir Putin was quoted by the Kremlin as saying on Thursday.
"Our position is extremely clear. Any resolution on Kosovo should be approved by both sides," Putin said. "It is also clear that any resolution on Kosovo will set a precedent in international practice."
Analysts said the comments could mean that if Kosovo declares unilateral independence, Moscow could support independence for pro-Russian separatists in Georgia.
The statements were published by Bulgarian media ahead of Putin's arrival in Sofia to commemorate the 130th anniversary of the Russo-Turkish war on Thursday.