One of the biggest issues in global politics this year is likely to be the future status of Kosovo.
The US and EU will want, if not full independence, then at the very least enough autonomy for Kosovo to become a de facto independent state.
But Russia is still pushing for Serbia to retain significant influence in and over Kosovo. The two countries have significant historical ties and, while I think Vladimir Putin will be prepared to do a deal over Kosovo, I think he’ll want to extract a very high price for any concessions.
Biggest among those concessions, will be Western acceptance of the independence claims of at least one (and preferably all) of the following Russian puppet statelets: Transdneister (of Moldova), Abkhazia or South Ossetia (both of Georgia).
Putin has already been hinting strongly at links between the two:
As Vladimir Putin began to hint at his marathon press conference yesterday, in return for agreeing to grant full independence to Kosovo, Moscow might ask in return that the countries of the West recognize the independence of pro-Moscow republics such as those of Abkhazia or South Ossetia, thus putting further pressure on Georgia.
But now he seems to be taking concrete steps via the UN Security Council to ratchet up pressure on Georgia. Joel at Neweurasia.net notes that Russia has ruled out any reference to the Boden paper in the Security Council’s latest resolution. The Boden paper was a framework document for discussions, which saw Abkhazia remaining an integral part of Georgia, rather than an independent state.
Russia has always encouraged the Abkhaz rejection, but refrained from vetoing references to it during UN negotiations. Now, however, Moscow no longer finds it necessary to mask its rejection of the document (Eurasia Daily Monitor). The confirmation of Russia’s long time de facto alignment with Abkhazia is cause for serious concern in Tbilisi, and begs the question: Will the expiring UNOMIG now be on the chopping block? This would leave Georgia in an undesirable head on situation with Russia in Abkhazia.
This looks to me like a clear statement of intent on Russia’s part. And, perhaps more worrying, is the fact that neither the US, the UK or France have seen fit to oppose this Russian amendment to the resolution.
It’s beginning to look as though the US and EU are prepared to cut a deal which would effectively leave their ally Georgia out in the cold, for the sake of more stability on the EU’s borders.