The FINANCIAL -- According to RIA Novosti, Russia will contest any unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo in circumvention of the United Nations, Russia's envoy to the troika of international mediators said on December 10.
With the UN deadline for an agreement on the future status of Kosovo set to expire on December 10, the Albanian-dominated province's leaders have begun talks with Western powers on a declaration of independence. Russia has warned of a chain reaction if the province permanently breaks away from Serbia.
"A unilateral declaration of independence would be in breach of UN Security Council Resolution 1244. In this event, Russia would demand a revocation and nullification of the decision," Alexander Botsan-Kharchenko said.
The envoy said the ongoing discussions were non-official, and that a formal debate at the Security Council was set for December 19.
He said Western partners do not want the failed negotiations between Serb and Kosovo Albanian leaders to continue.
"We know about this, but we have our own position, and we will stand by it," he said.
Serbia's first deputy prime minister said on December 10 that Belgrade does not intend to back down and grant Kosovo independence in order to secure European Union membership.
"Serbia will never accept such a trade-off, particularly since no one has proposed this," Bozidar Djelic said.
The Contact Group's troika of diplomats - from Russia, the United States and the European Union - submitted to the UN Security Council a report on December 7 saying that the parties had failed to reach an agreement after "120 days of intensive negotiations."
At the latest talks in Austria in late November, Kosovo continued to insist on full independence, while Belgrade was only willing to offer the province broad autonomy.
Pristina earlier said it would declare sovereignty unilaterally if no compromise was found by the deadline. Its stance has been backed by Washington and some European countries, with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice calling independence for Kosovo "logical."
However, Russia, Serbia's traditional ally, maintains that independence for Kosovo could lead to a domino effect, causing other separatist regions to unilaterally announce full nationhood.
Kosovo has been a UN protectorate since 1999, when NATO's bombing of the former Yugoslavia ended a bloody war between Serb forces and ethnic Albanians.