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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia Eyes Kosovo Partition

Russia will accept a partitioning of Serbia's Kosovo province if that is the solution agreed upon by Belgrade and Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Friday.

The province, part of Serbia but with a majority ethnic Albanian population, has been run by the United Nations and NATO for the past eight years. Kosovo Albanians want full independence, but Belgrade has refused to grant it to them.

The United Nations administration agreed with the leaders of the Albanian majority to hold parliamentary and local elections Nov. 17, officials said.

The vote is likely to increase tensions because the talks over Kosovo's political future are due to end in early December.

Russia, a Serbian ally, opposes a Western-backed plan to grant Kosovo independence from Belgrade. The so-called Troika of Russia, the European Union and the United States was created for talks after Moscow blocked the independence plan in the UN.

"The aim of the [troika] mediators is to help the sides to reach agreement ... and not to force a particular solution on them," Lavrov told reporters at a news briefing in Moscow.

Partitioning would most likely involve splitting off a northern slice of Kosovo, where many Serbs live.

Wolfgang Ischinger, the EU's mediator to the Troika, said Thursday that a partition had never been on the Troika's agenda.

Earlier this month, however, Ischinger said a partition could be contemplated if both sides agreed to it.