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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia Digs in its Heels Over Kosovo

UNITED NATIONS -- Russia's ambassador to the UN insisted Kosovo's majority ethnic Albanians and minority Serbs hold new negotiations on the province's future status without any promise of independence if the talks fail -- a stand strongly opposed by the U.S. and European Union nations.

The ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, reiterated Moscow's rejection of a revised UN resolution that would delay internationally supervised independence for Kosovo to give the two sides more time to reach an agreement, and he said Friday he would not negotiate on the text when experts meet Monday.

The new text, sponsored by EU nations and the United States, would give the sides four months to reach an agreement. It states that the resolution's provisions, which lead to full independence, will take effect after 120 days "unless the Security Council expressly decides otherwise after conducting an evaluation."

The 15 Security Council members discussed the draft behind closed doors for the first time since it was introduced Wednesday, and it was clear afterward that Russia's adamant opposition remains a major stumbling block to its adoption.

Churkin said he expected Kosovo to be on the agenda when President Vladimir Putin meets U.S. President George W. Bush at the Bush family compound in Maine on July 1 and 2.

"The current draft text is not bringing us closer to an acceptable outcome of this process," he said, adding that the Russian view has support in the council.

Asked what the incentive would be for the Kosovo Albanians to negotiate, Churkin said, "people talk about independence because it will open up some economic prospects," but the most important thing for Kosovo is "to establish full-fledged relations with Belgrade."

"This should be sufficient incentive for Pristina to enter into serious negotiations," he said.

Britain's deputy UN ambassador, Karen Pierce, said most council members support the new text and countered that "there are no incentives" for further negotiations. "People may not like that fact. It's a fact of life," she said.

France's UN ambassador, Jean-Marc de La Sabliere, said he was "really disappointed" that Russia did not engage during Friday's talks. He said he told Churkin that the co-sponsors are waiting for Russia's proposals.

"We think we have gone a long way toward addressing [Russia's] concerns, and we hope this council can move on this issue soon," said U.S. Deputy Ambassador Alejandro Wolff.