Russia’s gift at the end of the Kosovo negotiations

Russia is doing a great service to Serbia, helping it to make important decisions at the end of Kosovo negotiations. When the difficult and complicated talks about Kosovo are over, with compromise and equal dissatisfaction of both Belgrade and Pristina, part of the credit for an effective, historic job would have to go to Russia. Sounds paradoxical?

Moscow clearly does not want any such recognition, because its expectations from the Kosovo dialogue have been different. Russia wants that process never to end, and for relations between Belgrade and Pristina to remain tense, and, if possible, develop into a new conflict.

The ten-year negotiations between Serbia and Kosovo, mediated by the EU and the USA, are certainly coming to an end. Discussions are being conducted on the draft agreement drawn up by Western mediators, in which both Belgrade and Pristina will certainly have to make some major concessions that are difficult for them.

Seems paradoxical, but the Russian Ambassador to Serbia, Alexander Botsan-Kharchenko, made things easier. He has made an important contribution to the dialogue, to move even faster towards a successful conclusion and a compromise between the Serbs and Albanians.

As an experienced and skilled diplomat, he communicated and implemented his government’s policy in relation to the Kosovo issue. The problem for Moscow is that this policy is verging on autistic and, as such, inapplicable in real conditions.

According to the policy Ambassador Botsan-Kharchenko conveyed to the Serbian public in an interview for the Serbian News Agency Beta on February 9, the outcome of the Kosovo issue depends on the outcome of the war in Ukraine. Serbia will have to wait for the end of the aggression, which it is convinced will be in Russia’s favour.

Why have such an attitude towards Belgrade? First, because of Russia’s undisguised threat to Serbia that everything President Vučić and the Government are doing now, and have been doing for years, has actually been in vain and that they should abandon these policies and wait for events on the other side to end. Needless to say, this applies to vital Russian (not Serbian) interests, which means Ukraine.

Second and long expected: Russia is intervening with all its might in the Kosovo process now that is at its end. Over the past 10 years, it has contributed nothing. On the contrary, for a whole decade, Russia complained and opposed agreements, occasionally undermining them from the sidelines. It has not been involved in their course, angry that they have been conducted under the auspices of the West. It offered no alternative, no new ideas, except to return everything to ground zero and to the UN Security Council, where Russia can block any progress.

Furthermore, trying to force the Kosovo issue to be conditional on the outcome of the Russian aggression against Ukraine has caused the most brutal damage to Serbia’s interests by prioritising Russian interests.   The message from Moscow is finally clear – you and your Kosovo are unimportant to us, we will deal with you when we are done with Ukraine, which is the only issue that is important to us.

Finally – what if Russia loses in Ukraine? What if Russia’s mythical ambitions about the return of its  “historical lands”, which was the primary objective for the conquest of Ukraine, are not realised? What kind of new geopolitical conditions has Botsan-Kharchenko been talking about, while requesting that the agreement on Kosovo stop? And does Russia really think that Serbia should contribute everything it has to their murderous adventure, which will certainly and fortunately fail?

The Russian government, through its ambassador, said that no regional issue in the world could be resolved as long as its invasion of Ukraine continues. Such arrogance could only be found in Moscow today. The rest of the world has to stop functioning while they finish their “job” in Ukraine?

But, somehow, the world has not been waiting for Russia to achieve its expansionist goals at the expense of sovereign nations. Russia’s renegade behaviour has only accelerated the resolution of some other crises in the world: for example, regarding Taiwan, relations between the US and China, or Europe’s transition to energy sources other than Russian.

Russia’s political logic is self-destructive, because it is based on self-deception about its own greatness and historical role, in the belief that it has been called upon to decide on world affairs. Botsan-Kharchenko’s instruction to Serbia on what to do with Kosovo confirms that even after a year they have not realised that they are isolated from the world, that almost the entire UN opposes their aggression against Ukraine and that they were not involved in solving any world issues. Not even Kosovo.

It ignored the Kosovo issue at their own free will, several times, both regarding diplomacy and military, and were never involved in economic matters.   However, it remained ever present on the sidelines, ready to break any agreement, which is what they have been doing recently, whenever a compromise has been in sight.

So through its ambassador in Serbia, Moscow’s arrogance, supported by nothing, has acquired a local dimension by interpreting that the European proposal for the Kosovo solution, which is on the table, is not acceptable for Serbia? A foreign country cannot possibly know that, and the way it interprets Serbia’s seems like a threat, or at least a warning, to its head of state to avoid the wrath of Russia if he does the opposite of Russia’s expectations in further talks.

The overall picture demonstrates to Serbia that it has been on the right track regarding Kosovo, provided its decisions are contrary to Russian expectations. Russian expectations from the Kosovo negotiations are contrary to Serbia’s interests. Russia does not even take them into account. Russian expectations from Serbia only concern Russian goals in Ukraine. And this applies to Russian interests in general. It is good that Serbia finally got a clear answer from Moscow about its expectations regarding Kosovo, at a time when decisions have to be made cautiously, and without the right to revisions. In the equation surrounding Kosovo, one unknown has been solved: the Russian one.