Kosovo Conflict Returns To The Fore

Kosovo is preapared to declare its independence this coming weekend, and the world awaits Russia’s response to this event. The Putin government is strongly supporting Serbian opposition to the formal breaking away of an area that once was part of initially Yugoslavia, and later, Serbia. A more confident Russia is prepared to throw its weight of power behind its ally. Russia can not halt independence, but it has blocked recognition of this event by the United Nations. A major source of conflict that is emerging is over control of the Serb majority city of Mitrovica which is located in the northern part of Kosovo.

In 1999, the Yeltsin government sent Russian troops to seize the major airport of Kosovo and they remained until President Clinton exerted pressure for their withdrawal. No Russian troops will appear at the main airport in the coming days, but Russia might well support a Serbian takeover of the city of Mitrovica. Putin might even order in Russian troops to assist the Serbians which, in effect, would lead to a partition of the new nation of Kosovo.

In reality, neither NATO nor the UN have ever been able to exert control of theMitrovica area and, most probably, will stand down from an armed clash if Serbian and Russian troops seize control of the city. In the real world, nations don’t always get everything they desire.

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