Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Statement by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia at UNSC briefing on the situation in Kosovo


We thank SRSG Ziadeh for the briefing on the situation in the Province of Kosovo and the insights that she shared.

We welcome Prime Minister of Serbia, Anna Brnabic, to this meeting. We also have listened to the opinion of Ms. Vjosa Osmani. We were particularly touched by her persistent, yet clumsy attempts to implicate Russia in the developments in Kosovo. Your attempts to present Kosovo as a "beacon" and "show case" of democracy against the gloomy background of the surrounding autocracies can elicit but a sarcastic smile.

In the six months since the previous meeting of the Security Council on this agenda item, the situation in Kosovo has deteriorated dramatically. The reason remains the same, and it is the desire of the so-called Kosovo authorities to establish full control of the Serb-populated north of the Province.

In April, Pristina brought its proxies to power in four non-Albanian municipalities. They were elected in a pseudo-vote that the Serb population had boycotted. Despite a paltry poll turnout of 3.47 % all thanks to the Albanian minority, the US and EU recognized the elections as valid. As a direct consequence, the new "mayors" accompanied by Kosovo "special forces" actually seized administrative buildings, which triggered a major outbreak of violence in late May.

We are particularly concerned that this time, the NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR) in fact acted at one with Kosovo Albanian "security forces". It was KFOR personnel who attempted to disperse Kosovo Serbs as the latter were peacefully protesting outside the Zveçan municipal administration building on 29 May. Kosovo Albanians took advantage of this to start shooting at civilians with automatic rifles. Dozens of people were injured on both sides. By sheer luck, there were no casualties. Verbally, the West condemned A.Kurti’s high-handedness and adopted some disciplinary measures. But those are just for show.

Life has become harsh in northern Kosovo, with acts of intimidation, arrests of Serbs, and assaults on people and their property taking place almost daily. Since the ultra-nationalist Self-Determination Movement came to power in 2021, there have been 420 (in fact even more) ethnicity-based attacks on Serbs. Particularly striking are barbaric burnings of homes of refugees returning to the Province. At least two such incidents have occurred in recent months. The dispute over the Vysoké Dečani monastery, which is being unjustifiably denied ownership of the adjacent territory, remains unresolved. The arbitrary expropriation of Serb-owned land in the north of the province – to be used by the Kosovo "police" for building outposts – has also continued.

Now the northern districts of Kosovo are under a de facto blockade. The ban on the import of goods from central Serbia is bringing the situation near to a humanitarian disaster, for there is a shortage of vaccines for children (including newborns) and medicines for oncology and other patients. The Kosovo Mitrovica hospital is running out of oxygen supplies. Prime Minsiter Brnabic spoke about it earlier today.

All of the above appears very unflattering for Pristina, where a single incident is being widely discussed in order to divert attention and shift responsibility for what is happening on Belgrade. The said incident took place in the north of the Province in the village of Banjska on September 24, where three local Serbs and a Kosovo-Albanian "police officer" were killed.

We have many questions in that regard. First of all, it is unknown why international presences have stepped aside. Previously, in similar situations, patrols from the EUFOR and KFOR were quickly dispatched to the zones of tension in order to disengage the confronting parties and launch negotiations. This time, however, the situation was left entirely to the discretion of Kosovo Albanians, which led to a tragic outcome.

 It is also noteworthy that on the day of the incident, the West decided not to wait for the first results of the investigation and immediately labeled the event an "abhorring" and "terrible" terrorist attack. The Kosovo Albanians set about spreading misinformation that their "police officer" had allegedly been shot by Belgrade-backed Serbs. It was not until later that they had to admit that the man had suffered from a detonated explosive device. This being said, the Serbs who had stopped resisting were not killed in crossfire, but were shot at point-blank range.

In sum, there are attempts to slander Belgrade, and these attempts are dangerous because they give Pristina a carte blanche to intensify repression against the Serb population of the Province. We are convinced that if this arbitrariness is not put an end to, the consequences could be extremely grave, up to resumption of armed conflict.

The tendency towards open confrontation is also indicated by the illegitimate transformation of Pristina's "Security Force" into a quasi-army being supplied with modern weapons and military equipment, and the training of Kosovo-Albanian personnel at the American base Bondsteel, which was originally intended for the exact opposite tasks, namely peacekeeping. Western arms donors prefer not to mention the fact that these steps flagrantly violate UN Security Council resolution 1244.

In that context, it is also telling that Pristina declares continuity between the "police" and the Kosovo Liberation Army, a terrorist organization whose leaders, including Hashim Thaçi, are currently being tried as defendants for grave war crimes before the Specialist Chambers in The Hague. We trust that the Chambers will not repeat the mistakes of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and that all those responsible will receive the punishment they deserve. In that context, Pristina's refusal to pay compensation to the victims of the crimes committed by KLA fighters, contrary to the rulings made in The Hague, speaks eloquently for itself.

Connivance on the part of the West but incites to “Greater Albanian” ambition of Kosovo’s quasi-Prime-Minister Kurti, which reaches far beyond the limits of the Province. He attempts at destabilizing Muslim-populated areas in central Serbia, encourages centrifugal sentiment in North Macedonia. There are maps of “Greater Albania”, and those also infringe on the territorial integrity of Montenegro and Greece.  


We underscore that in these circumstances, Western countries are destroying the international legal basis for settlement. Mediators from Washington and the European Union are clumsily passing off one-sided schemes that disadvantage Serbs as a "successful compromise". The notorious "Agreement on the Path to Normalization" disregards Serbia's fundamental interests and demands recognition of Kosovo's sovereignty. On top of that, they act as if there was neither resolution 1244 nor the Brussels Agreements, and the normalization process began only with the verbal arrangements of February-March 2023. At the same time, Kosovo's application to the Council of Europe is being advanced. Also, visa liberalization with the EU is promised to come into effect on January 1, 2024.

It is clear that the absolute tolerance of his mentors allows A.Kurti to sabotage with impunity the unconditional obligation of creating a Community of Serb Municipalities of Kosovo (CSMK). According to Pristina, the idea of CSMK is dead. At the same time, they argue that drafting of CSMK statute should be supervised by Washington, who is resolutely opposed to granting any executive powers to Serbs in Kosovo. In this connection, we would like to emphasize that, until the CSMK is established in its original form, there is no talking about security of the Serb population in the Province. Without that, the search for a reliable and sustainable solution is unthinkable.

In order to de-escalate, Kosovo-Albanian "special forces" must withdraw from the northern parts of the Province, thier bases and roadblocks must be dismantled. It is also necessary to return to the mandate of KFOR, as clearly defined in resolution 1244. The international legal parameters for finding a sustainable and just solution on Kosovo set out in this fundamental document have no alternative. This solution must be acceptable to Belgrade and endorsed by the UNSC.

The activities of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), while preserving its staffing and financial potential, remain in strong demand. We draw attention to the fact that the Kosovo-Albanians involved in the detention of UNMIK staff member M.A. Krasnoshchekov on May 28, 2019, and the infliction of grievous bodily harm on him have not yet been brought to justice. Another Mission staff member, A.N.Antonov, was declared ‘persona non grata’ on December 31, 2021, by an unlawful decision of the Kosovo "authorities". In the absence of an adequate response, it is only a matter of time before similar steps are repeated against United Nations personnel in other parts of the world.

Attempts to remove the Kosovo file from the agenda of the Security Council are unacceptable. We recall some our colleagues trying to persuade the Council that nothing serious was happening in Kosovo, that the situation there "is no longer a matter of peace and security" and that thematic meetings of the Security Council should be held once and not twice a year. We are well aware what happened in the Province afterwards, in September. In the current circumstances, regular discussion of the situation in Kosovo should remain the agenda of the Security Council.

Thank you.

Video of the statement