Conflicting Perceptions: Russia, the West and Kosovo

In: Review of Central and East European Law
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The confrontation between the West and Russia over conflict resolution in breakaway states (Kosovo, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, etc.) has been, by and large, the result of dangerous geopolitical moves on the part of both sides after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The US tried to translate the unexpectedly quick victory in the Cold War into a policy aimed at making political use of this tectonic shift in world affairs. On the other hand, Russia—economically marginalized and fully dependent on foreign aid—was forced to stand by and swallow the bitter pill of being excluded from geopolitical decision making. This applies to international diplomacy in the Balkans in the 1990S and, especially, to the Kosovo question, which had already become heated by 1999. However, times have changed in this respect, and things have gotten worse. The Georgian-Ossetian conflict in the summer of 2008 shows that neither side is really interested in an irreversible settlement process in the regions concerned: Russia—for a long time humiliated by the West—acts with a hint of satisfaction in its voice and the West still denies reality by referring to the fairy tale of Kosovo as a sui generis case.

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