Kosovo: Why Russia?

Recently adopted proclamation of Kosovo independence has seriously echoed around the world. All assessments of the event were fluctuating between two contradicting poles while demonstrating wide range of feelings and opinions. Following the notion made by well-known Bulgarian specialist working now in USA Professor Maria Todorova in the book "Imaging the Balkans" that "the "civilized world" (the term is introduced not ironically but as a self-proclaimed label) was first seriously upset with the Balkans at the time of the Balkan wars (1912-1913)" one should come to conclusion of eternity of the Balkan regional history. However this statement is too simplistic to explain the views and assessments of proponents and adversaries of Kosovo independence. Moscow' harsh reaction against recently promulgated independence and unconditional support delivered to Belgrade by both Russian Federation and Peoples Republic of China (together with declarations similar in their tone, made by some Balkan and Central-Eastern European states), one has to bear in mind real reasons lay behind such a behavior. Let alone the peculiarities of others' stance and come back to Russian position. Moscow suffers serious discomfort of three ensuing factors. First of them is possible changes of whole system of international relations where recognition of independence is multilateral process that doesn't hinder national sovereignty of any state. To all appearances the Kremlin is suspicious of possible use of newly adopted rules to several regions of contemporary Russia in crucial hypothetic moment. Particularly this assumption roots in often references of the Russian authorities to "dangerous precedential character" of the Kosovo case. Next to that reason is another one. It concerns Moscow's dissatisfaction with situation in East-Central Europe where the dominant role of USA and Nato, according to Russian views, is growing as a factor of possible isolation of Russia in strategically important region and constructing of "new reality". This approach is based in some ways on well-known assumption made by prominent British geographer and one of the founders of so-called classic geopolitics Halford Mackinder who had formulated in his essay "Democratic Ideals and Reality" (1919) not indisputable principle "Who rules East Europe commands the Heartland. Who rules the heartland commands the World Island. Who rules the World Island commands the World." And, finally, Moscow seeks political platform to reactivate the idea of multipolar world where it may reestablished itself in different spheres of world affairs. Since the Kosovo' case seriously influenced present world situation including arbitrary role of UN, Russia undertakes serious efforts to avoid undesirable results appealing to national interests of other states may be placed under same danger in immediate or far-reaching perspective.

Artyom Ulunyan - Doctor of Sciences (History). Head of the Center for Balkan, Caucasian and Central Asian Studies Institute of World History Russian Academy of Sciences.

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