Russia denies hand in Serbian violence

Feb. 22, 2008 at 8:06 AM

MOSCOW, Feb. 22 (UPI) -- Russia's ambassador to NATO says if the European Union or NATO "steps beyond its mandate in Kosovo" force may be necessary for other views to be respected.

Russia said it believes Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence from Serbia is not valid.

Dmitry Rogozin, Russian ambassador to NATO, said, "(If) the EU works out a single position or if NATO steps beyond its mandate in Kosovo, these organizations will be in conflict with the United Nations, and then I think we will also begin operating under the assumption that in order to be respected one needs to use force," Interfax reported Friday.

Russia also denied accusations that it has encouraged riots in Serbia protesting Kosovo's break and against countries recognizing Kosovo. Fires have been set, cars overturned and property damaged in the demonstrations.

"Russia has never instigated and is not going to instigate anyone," said Sergei Mironov, speaker of the Russian Federation Council.

Russia has introduced a resolution asking the U.N. Security Council to revoke Kosovo's independence.

"We understand the official statements made by the Serbian administration," Mironov said. "Moreover, we also believe that self-proclamation -- in the event that other countries recognize this territory -- will have very serious negative implications for the whole world."

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