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Monday, October 22, 2007

Putin and Kosovo

The Weekly Standard reports:

RUSSIAN TYRANT-IN-WAITING Vladimir Putin's plan to restore a one-man dictatorship in Moscow has caused anxiety in the thin ranks of Russian liberals as well as among partisans of secure independence in the former Soviet republics. It should also stimulate concern in Europe, the United States, and the Far East, since it is clear that Putin desires recovery of Russian spheres of influence, temporarily lost with the collapse of communism.

Mostly unnoticed, Putin has resorted to a weapon that served his absolutist predecessors: pan-Slavic ultranationalism with the pretext of solidarity among Christian Orthodox peoples. The sharp point of this blade is visible in the troubled ex-Yugoslav successor states. Russia is reestablishing itself as a regional power in the Balkans.

Putin and his cohort in the Russian business mafia have adopted Serbia as a surrogate, and continue to obstruct the full and legal independence of Kosovo. In Kosovo's neighbor Montenegro, which gained independence from Serbia last year, Putinite investors have bought up a considerable share of attractive beachfront properties, intending to revive the local tourist industry on a betting-and-brothel basis.

Russian banking and other commercial operations are expanding in the so-called "Serb Republic" that occupies north and east Bosnia- Herzegovina. Twelve years after the Dayton agreement to stop the fighting in that mutilated country, the "Serb Republic" continues to rule almost two-thirds of Bosnian land.

Serbs use the continued existence of the Bosnian "Serb Republic" against U.S.-E.U. proposals for Kosovo independence. The arguments from Belgrade and Moscow are simple and brutal: if Kosovo becomes independent, the Bosnian "Serb Republic" will demand the same status. Meanwhile, the Serbs and Putin paint the Kosovo Albanians as potential al Qaeda recruits, with Serbian propaganda at home as well as inside the Beltway emphasizing that the Albanians are, in their majority, Muslim. This demographic fact is well known, but Kosovars and Albanians in general are not exclusively Muslim. And they have shown little propensity for Islamist ideology, notwithstanding Serb claims that independent Kosovo would become a "Muslim rogue state."

Catholics account for 10 to 15 percent in the Kosovo population of two million. Catholic churches are found in most larger (and some smaller) towns, and Catholics were victims of Serbian violence before and during the U.S.-led intervention of 1998-99. Catholic clergy and intellectuals possess influence among their co-ethnics far beyond what their numbers might suggest. It is not by accident that the main street in Prishtina, the Kosovo capital, was renamed after 1999 for Mother Teresa, an Albanian from neighboring Macedonia. And Albanians remain so non-sectarian in their national sentiments that even if the West were to abandon them to the Serbs, it is almost impossible to imagine them turning to radical Islam as a solution to their frustrations. Albanians want to be accepted as Europeans, and not viewed as Middle Eastern intruders in the continent.

Serbs and their sympathizers--including a lobby of former U.S. diplomats and functionaries--also threaten a serious upheaval if the Kosovo Albanians are granted complete freedom. The Serbs and their enablers warn belligerently that their defiance of Albanian majority rule will begin with seizure of the northern tip of Kosovo, which has a Serb majority as well as significant natural and other economic resources.

Russian meddling in this trouble zone is not mere posturing for the benefit of the Slav and other Orthodox publics. Russia is joined by China in using Kosovo as a foil. Beijing says it will use its U.N. Security Council veto to forestall a free Kosovo, because of its problems with Tibet and Eastern Turkestan, both regions where local non-Chinese claim their historic tenancy has been diluted by massive Chinese immigration and politico-economic domination. The Russo- Chinese anti-democratic pair in the U.N. is supported in their anti- Kosovo position by Spain, which cites nationalism among the Basques and Catalans as its worry. Cyprus backs Serbia because of its own partitioning between Orthodox Greeks and Muslim Turks, and Slovakia also opposes Kosovo's liberation. Why Slovakia? The Slovaks have a considerable history as Russian pawns--they commandeered the process of repression in the former Czechoslovakia after the Soviet intervention of 1968. But their leaders additionally play on fears, among the Slav majority, of their Hungarian minority of some 10 percent.

To most Westerners, the fate of Kosovo is eclipsed by the challenges in Iraq and Iran. Amazingly, however, Washington policy gadflies claim that nation-building in the Balkans--including the disastrous division of Bosnia-Herzegovina--has succeeded and provides a fruitful example to be imitated in Baghdad. Bosnian Muslims as well as Croatians and Kosovar Albanians say otherwise--that their confidence that outside intervention would benefit them has vanished as they witness UN and EU incompetence or worse in dealing with them.

Failure to respond to Putin's intrigues in the Balkans will only encourage the new Russian imperialism elsewhere. Russia also blocks common international policies on Iran and Burma. Russian parliamentary elections will come on December 2, 2007, followed by the deadline for the U.N. negotiations on Kosovo December 10. U.S. policy must be consistent and principled, and must not give way in the face of Putin's machinations in Kosovo, lest a reinvigorated foreign offensive by Russia undermine the trend toward freedom in places far from, and far more prominent, than the small states of the former Yugoslavia.


Anonymous said...

You are liers, because everything you think about is how to control Russians. You talks about henocide of Albanians, but who cares what happened with hundreds thousends of Serbians during this war and Nato attacks of Jugoslavia. The main idea for you is not a mankind or nation, but how to win and how to develope your ascedancy to the most number of Goverments. But the story returns, you created Ben Laden and the US responsable for it. You build site Russofobia, we will keep in mind it and we will answer for it. You hate us, then we will hate you!

La Russophobe said...

Your comment is deeply demented, a really good example of how fundamentally lost and ignorant many Russian people really are. It's rather sad that your ego mania allows you to believe that the West is obsessed with controlling Russia. In fact, most Westerners hardly know Russia exists and couldn't care less about it. Russian delusions of grandeur have always poisoned its ability to act rationally.

The fact that we are biased and omit information you'd like us to report isn't any kind of proof that what we do report is a "lie." It's amazing that you can call for truth in such a shoddy, dishonest way.

It's Armenians, not Albanians. If you think the number of Serbs killed by NATO is comparable to the number of Armenians butchered by the Turks, then you are clearly the product of a pathetic neo-Soviet "education."

Do you go around the RuNet finding blogs that express criticism of America and telling them to stop? Of course not. Because you are a blind Russian nationalist who doesn't care one bit about the truth.

Russia is providing weapons to America's most hated foes: Venezuela, Iran, Syria, Hamas and Hezbollah. It's exactly the same as if America provided weapons to Shamil Basayev in Chechnya. But America didn't do that, because unlike Russia America is a civilized country.

There is not one single word of peace or friendship in your post. You are just waiting for the chance to express your violence and hatred. If you want to fight again against the US, a country that has already defeated you once and has an economy 12 times larger than yours, then there is only one word for you: