Russian Paradoxical stance on Kosovo | A tool to justify illegal annexations.

Updated: May 28

The Paradoxical stance of Russia is evident; where on one side, it justifies its illegal annexations by referring to Kosovo while always hesitating to accept the sovereignty of Kosovo. This ambivalence can be cleared out by looking deep into Russian strategic interests and relations with its allies.

In 2014, Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine and later installed a puppet pro-Russian government over there. The move was a violation of an international rule of non-interference, but Russia argued that it was the demand of the Crimean people; thus, as for the right of self-determinism, the invasion is justified. Putin remarked by referring to Kosovo when western countries interfere in Serbian in the name of the Right to Protect (R2P) and make Kosovo an independent state.

Not just Russia sought to justify in the case of Crimea, but also during the illegal invasion of Ukraine (2022). For instance, after capturing the territory of Luhansk and Donetsk in Ukraine, Putin declared these sovereign states where people didn’t want to remain the part of Ukraine. Therefore, it is rational to protect their determinism.

Why Russia is fond of rejuvenating Kosovo’s intervention for its strategic coercions, and what happened with Kosovo?

Kosovo was the province of erstwhile Yugoslavia, which constituted more than 95 percent of the Muslim population. In the 1980s, after the death of the Yugoslavian leader, nationalism started growing throughout the country. The waves of nationalism had wiped out the whole country in a way that the conglomeration of six-republican Yugoslavian states: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Slovenia started deterioration. It was owing to the growing power of Serbia in the federation that compelled other states to follow the path of succession. Resultantly, Yugoslavia was disintegrated into many new states. However, these states once already existed pre-ww2; therefore, Serbia couldn’t halt the separatism.

But, like other ethnic separatism had been grown, the notions of nationalism among Muslims in Serbia also started rampantly. Kosovo was a region of Serbia – unlike other conglomerated states – the urge for a separate nation-state cannot be fulfilled easily. Hence, when people started raising their voices for a separate state, the Serbian government attempted brutally to curb the demands; whereby mass killings, murders, rape, and war crimes were perpetrated on a huge scale in Kosovo. Witnessing the war crimes and Human-rights violations, it was seen mandatory by the western bloc and other Muslim state to interfere in the matter of Kosovo for peace and security. Consequently, US-led NATO initiated the full-scale operation to stop mass murder and to safeguard Kosovo’s people's rights. Serbia and its allies blatantly condemned it as foreign intervention in the state matter, but the western narrative had been changed to Right to Protect for peace & security. This precedent, which was set by the west, many times had been used by the Russian to justify its invasion.

Why Russia doesn’t recognize Kosovo?

The main reasons that restrict Russia to recognize Kosovo are: Russia and Serbia historically and strategically have been remaining in line with each other. For example, the ethnic Slavic bond and orthodox Christian heritage bind these two states in a cordial relationship. Moreover, Russian Empire helped Serbians to regain their territory from the Ottomans’ control by fighting the Russo-Turk war (1877). Furthermore, during world war 2, when Austria-Hungary attacked Serbia, Russia waged war against it because of its commitment to protecting Serbia.

Why China hesitates to support Russian invasion:

China and Russia are vital allies in the global realm. However, Russian acts of invasion, declaring other countries’ regions as independent, and referring to Kosovo’s case, do not make China happy. Because China is committed to its One-China Policy, support for Russian illegal annexation makes China’s claim vulnerable. After the Chinese civil war (1945-1949), the non-communist party of China evacuated to an Island and declared their homeland “The sovereign land of non-communist Chinese people,” which is known as Taiwan. Communist China saw it as a violation of territorial integrity because the Island belongs to China; therefore, no other state can’t be formed on Chinese territories. China never accepted Taiwan, and always argued against de-facto control over Island. On the other hand, if the case of Taiwan is witnessed through the prism of self-determinism, the Taiwanese have the right to enjoy their sovereignty without giving importance to mainland China’s claims. However, China rejected the notion of self-determinism. Consequently, China doesn’t support the Russian move of perpetuating the invasion for self-determinism; because, in this way, China’s narrative becomes weak.