Day By Day

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Kosovo Crisis Widens

This is disturbing -- Russia seems determined to use Serbian resentment of Kosovo's declaration of independence as a means of extending its influence in the Balkans. And, being Russia, that means armed intervention.

BBC reports:

Russia's ambassador to Nato, Dmitry Rogozin, has warned that Russia could use military force if the Kosovo independence dispute escalates.

"If the EU develops a unified position or if Nato exceeds its mandate set by the UN, then these organisations will be in conflict with the UN," he said.

In that case Russia would "proceed on the basis that in order to be respected we need to use brute force", he said.

Read it here.

That's right, he said "brute force". Russia is serving notice that if the EU or NATO opposes Serbian actions against Kosovo, it will intervene to protect the Serbs.

Now there are two basic questions:

1. What will the Serbs do? Paramilitary groups have already destroyed border checkpoints. Will there be incursions into Kosovo proper? And what about Serbs already living in Kosovo? What mischief will they be up to?

2. How will the EU respond to Serb provocation? Right now the EU is divided with most of its members refusing to recognize Kosovo's independence. The UN will take no action -- Russia and China would block that. Is is possible for NATO to respond without American leadership? Probably not. Would the US public support an American intervention and a showdown with Russia? Not likely in an election year.

Will there again be war in the Balkans? Time will tell. Stay tuned.


Things are getting worse. Now mobs are attacking UN police.

KOSOVSKA MITROVICA, Kosovo (AP) — Violent protests rocked Serb-dominated northern Kosovo on Friday, as mobs chanting "Kosovo is ours!" hurled stones, bottles and firecrackers at U.N. police guarding a bridge that divides Serbs from ethnic Albanians.

The scenes evoked memories of the carnage unleashed by former Serb autocrat Slobodan Milosevic the last time Kosovo tried to break away from Serbia, which considers the territory its ancestral homeland.

There were disturbing signs the riots in Belgrade, Serbia, and in Mitrovica have the blessing of nationalists in the Serbian government. The government hopes somehow to undo the loss of the beloved province, the site of an epic battle between Serbs and Turks in 1389.

Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica's authorities have repeatedly vowed to reclaim the land, despite U.S. and other Western recognition of Kosovo's statehood. Some hard-line government ministers have praised the violent protests as "legitimate" — and in line with government policies of retaining control over Serb-populated areas.

Read it here.


And now Bosnia Serbs are threatening to secede from Bosnia and to reunite with their homeland.
Read it here.


And, true to form the EU forces charged with protecting the Kosovars have decided to bug out until things settle down. Way to go guys!

The European Union has withdrawn staff from a divided Kosovo city following violent protests by the Serb minority, an EU envoy said Saturday as Russia warned Kosovo's independence could increase terrorism.

The EU staff in the northern city of Mitrovica have been preparing a 2,000 strong EU police-judicial mission in Kosovo after its declaration of independence, which has been rejected by the Serbian government and Kosovo Serbs.

"We have temporarily brought back our personnel, but we will maintain our office in the north," EU envoy Peter Feith told reporters in the southern Kosovo town of Prizren.

He did not give details on the numbers involved but added: "We hope that conditions will soon allow us to resume our activities" in northern Kosovo.

Read it here.