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Military confrontation is of course not possible over Kosovo, it's just hot steam. Europeans and Americans repeatedly threaten  recognise Kosovo independence unilaterally thinking - we are international community, the international law is in our hands.
Russia is determined to block it in principle as this would give to the West dangerous precedent, too much leverage over the international law.

The compromise seems unlikely too, so what is left? It depend on the choice of the West - if Western countries will proceed with recognition without Serbia's consent I think Russia after some time will unilaterally recognise some de-facto independent states which she will consider worthwile (of course Georgian regions will be the first) and will invite third world countries to do the same.

As the West has more friends in the world, Kosovo will gain recognition easier than Georgian breakaway provinces but with hurdles - remember Taiwan had occupied China's seat in UN several decades before Kissinger's ping pong diplomacy. The same will be fate of Kosovo - long long waiting before formal recognition in UN.

What about Georgian republics? They will be in position of Turkish part of Cyprus or somewhat better as Russia wields veto-power in SC. About recognition of these countries by third world countries - I don't know, Hugo Chavez (and other anti-Western leaders) or former Soviet republics which are very close to Russia may well be the first to follow Russian recognition. Iran's reaction may be interesting as well.

I see only one possibility of indirect military confrontation between Russia and the West - Russia's recognition may provoke Georgian leaders to launch fresh offensive against breakaway regions. There may be piquant situation if Georgia is admitted into NATO before this happens. Direct Russian-Georgian war is hardly possible but Russia already did a lot to arm and train secessionists to defend themselves.

by FarEasterner on Thu Dec 20th, 2007 at 01:21:21 AM EST
The Serb reaction to u unilateral declaration of independence by its KLA government in Pristina will probably be twofold:
  1. Recognize the region North of the Ibar river as remaining within Serbia.
  2. Recognizing Republika Srpska as fully independent from Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The Russian role in this will be to
  1. Militarily support the Serbs, notably by supplying a couple of battalions of Igla SAMs and ground troops.
  2. Recognize: Transdnestr, South Ossetia, Abkhazia in the short term.
by vladimir on Thu Dec 20th, 2007 at 02:38:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know much about Serb reaction but suspect they will at least wait and try to persuade Russia to recognise Serbs enclaves in Balkans first as such move by Serbia alone will close the door of EU.

Russia also will take her time to evaluate pros and contras of any shift in policy and will test possible reactions of her recognition from friendly countries inside CIS and in the third world.

by FarEasterner on Thu Dec 20th, 2007 at 06:28:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe the Autonomous Republic of Crimea will also declare independence from Ukraine? Now wouldn't that be interesting?
by vladimir on Thu Dec 20th, 2007 at 06:44:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
FarEasterner:
The compromise seems unlikely too, so what is left? It depend on the choice of the West - if Western countries will proceed with recognition without Serbia's consent I think Russia after some time will unilaterally recognise some de-facto independent states which she will consider worthwile (of course Georgian regions will be the first) and will invite third world countries to do the same.
There have already been some noises about Transdnistria.

By the way, these consideration may answer the question of why the US was reluctant to recognize the breakaway Yugoslav republics in 1991 or thereabouts: at that time it was an unquestionable tenet of international relations that you just didn't recognize border changes occurring by force. This taboo originated, I believe, around WWII and is teetering on the brink of irrelevance at the moment.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Dec 20th, 2007 at 04:59:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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