Russia's case on Georgia territories: Like Kosovo or not?
Tuesday, after invoking Kosovo to recognize two separatist republics, Russia changed its tack.
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Significantly, Lavrov added that Russia will not recognize Kosovo. In interviews with the Russian press on Tuesday, Sergei Romanenko, a senior scholar at the Russian Academy of Sciences, said this inconsistency is a problem for Russia since, "a 'no' to the independence of Kosovo and a 'yes' to the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia [is a stand] that does not elicit trust" from other powers, in an essay posted on polit.ru.Skip to next paragraph
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Closer examination of Kosovo events
The new Russian legal shift comes as Moscow's ardently stated rhetoric and emotion over the West's acceptance of Kosovo statehood is being more closely examined.
The dispute is quiet but bitter: Moscow has long made a strong legal case for Serbia's territorial integrity and sovereignty. US and EU diplomats say the Kosovo case is unique, an "accommodation" that emerged out of a long and often reluctant process involving specific moral and strategic circumstances – resulting in a new principle of "humanitarian intervention."
"In Kosovo, the West decided to make the rules on what humanitarian intervention meant, said that it had the power to do so, and decided not to stand by legal arguments in the middle of a genocide," argues James Hooper, a former US diplomat who worked with Gen. Wesley Clark in Kosovo.
Russia's new position is partly seen as helping smooth relations with Belgrade, whose claims on Kosovo have been left in the lurch by Moscow's recognition of separtists territories in the Caucasus, say diplomats. After a decade of ardent legal purity on Serbia's territorial integrity at the UN and other global groupings, Russia has suddenly changed those rules in Georgia – putting Serbia in the awkward position of having to choose between Russia and Europe, that has untold consequences for the new Serbian government.
Difference between Kosovo, Georgia
What truly irritates US diplomats and intellectuals involved in Kosovo, is Russia's creation of a moral equivalency between Georgia and Kosovo. Since 1999, a considerable amount of work has been done on the specific legal, moral, status, and historical differences between Kosovo and Abkhazia and South Ossestia by Western experts and organizations such as the Public International Law and Policy Group in Washington.
The genocide question
If the Balkans wars were simply an inchoate outbreak of ethnic squabbling among "three warring parties" of equal culpability, then the Russian legal argument might win the day, diplomats agree.
But that isn't the story that has been detailed exhaustively in the record of the war crimes tribunal at the Hague, in many books, videos, eyewitness accounts, and confessions by combatants.