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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

NATO Chief, Mironov Debate Policy

APDe Hoop Scheffer speaking to journalists as Mironov listens on Monday.
ST. PETERSBURG -- NATO'S chief and Federation Council Speaker Sergei Mironov clashed Monday over a Western-backed plan giving independence to Kosovo and a U.S. plan for a missile defense system.

In a debate with NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, Mironov said Russia would likely veto a plan by UN envoy Martti Ahtisaari that would grant Kosovo internationally supervised independence and warned that ignoring that veto would set a dangerous international precedent.

"They took a historical piece of Serbia away from it, and now they want to make an independent state on that territory," Mironov said in the debate. "My forecast is that Russia is very likely to use a veto on the decision granting Kosovo independence."

Russia, a traditional ally of Serbia with veto power on the United Nations Security Council, strongly opposes the plan, insisting that no country can be broken up against its will.

Russia has insisted that new negotiations are needed on Kosovo without any preconditions, while Western nations have pressed for a fast solution.

"Kosovo is an unsolved problem of the region, and I think that sooner than later we must try and solve that problem, the UN Security Council must try and solve it," de Hoop Scheffer said at the debate, which was broadcast on Ekho Mosvky radio.

Mironov also predicted that Western nations might snub Russia's possible veto and warned such a move would bode ill for similar conflicts.

"Even despite Russia's veto there will be de-facto ... recognition of allegedly independent Kosovo by various states, and it will be a frightening international precedent," Mironov said.

Mironov and de Hoop Scheffer also clashed over the U.S. plan for a missile defense system in Central Europe. Moscow says it does not believe Washington's contentions that a planned U.S. radar in the Czech Republic and missile interceptors in Poland are aimed against a potential threats from Iran, arguing the shield could be used against Russia.

"Who is this aimed against?" Mironov said. "When there are missiles at our borders ... it is already a threat."

De Hoop Scheffer disagreed, saying the plan represented no danger to Russia because the system would not be effective against Russian missiles.

De Hoop Scheffer said President Vladimir Putin's recent proposal for shared use of a Russia-rented early warning radar in Azerbaijan as an alternative to the plan demonstrated that Moscow also saw a threat from rogue nations, such as Iran.

"There is a threat -- and let's call a spade a spade," de Hoop Scheffer said. "For me the positive thing about this proposal is that Russia also perceives this threat as a threat."

De Hoop Scheffer is scheduled to meet with Putin in Moscow on Tuesday.