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Russia Strikes back as US takes Direct to Kosovo-Serbia peace talks

Russia has cautioned that it would have to accept any alternative attained in peace talks between Kosovo and Serbia in Washington later this month.

The warning by Sergei Lavrov comes following the United States encouraged both former wartime foes to get a meeting in the White House on June 27.

And he explained that any arrangement between Serbia and Kosovo has to be accepted by the UN Security Council, where Russia has veto power.

“We won’t permit efforts to unveil the history of the Second World War or the events which occurred in the Balkans 25 decades back,” Lavrov said during a joint press conference with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic.

“And, in every conceivable manner, we’ll recommend such approaches which won’t infringe on the interests of Serbia, which has an important and positive part in ensuring peace and stability in the area at this point.”

For nearly a decade, the European Union was in control of a dialog to normalize relations between Serbia and Kosovo.

Lavrov’s remarks make it clear that Moscow also needs a say in what happens from the Balkans. His trip to Belgrade was his first overseas trip since the onset of the coronavirus catastrophe.

“We’re now definitely in a fantastic power competition. For the United States, Southeastern Europe is a distinctive strategic area,” states Jelena Milić, manager of the Centre for Euro-Atlantic Research (CEAS).

US President Trump’s envoy Richard Grenell encouraged Kosovar and Serbian leading officials to meet at the White House after obtaining confirmation from Serbia it might briefly pause its effort for nations to draw recognition of Kosovo, which agreed to pause attempts to win greater international memberships.

On Thursday, Serbia’s Vucic also insisted that any decision on Kosovo will require the approval of Russia.

Ongoing EU diplomatic attempts
Vucic said that although he admitted Grenell’s invitation, the discussions from Washington are not supposed to undermine the EU’s mediation attempt.

The EU talks are set to restart after Kosovo recently lifted trade sanctions — and Belgrade, in turn, agreed to stop a de-recognition effort of its former state.

You’ve got great energy competition and you’ve got some type of rivalry obviously among allies, involving the EU and the existing U.S. administration. And I expect that NATO will solve the problem, peacefully now,” stated Milić.

Kosovo was an area within Serbia before a political shift in Belgrade and an armed uprising by the ethnic Albanian majority population in 1998-1999 triggered among Europe’s most violent battles. In 1999, NATO stopped the conflict in Kosovo using a bombing campaign against Serbia.

Now, two years after the USA, NATO’s biggest contributor, is attempting to secure a prospective peace deal.

The proposal comprises $200 million ($180 million) in loans but also the danger of pulling US troops — a part of NATO’s KFOR peacekeeping force — from Kosovo, which has prompted NATO to respond.

“I am convinced that NATO allies will remain dedicated to the KFOR mission. At exactly the same time, we’ll then strongly encourage efforts to resume the Pristina-Belgrade dialog,” said NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.