What's the Big Deal?

Kosovo partial official results confirm Thaci win

This is very interesting. Hashim Thaci, besides being the newly elected prime minister of Kosovo, is the president of the political party PDK, Democratic Party of Kosovo. But what is even more interesting is that he headed an ethnic-Albanian guerilla group, the Kosovo Liberation Army, which fought for independence from Yugoslavia and Serbia in 1990’s. In other words, he is very much an Albanian nationalist. Kosovo has said it will declare formal independence in December if a deal cannot be reached.

So Kosovo might gain independence. What’s the big deal? The region of Kosovo exists in Serbia, which Russia supports extensively. Russia is very much pro-Serbian, and has made its position very clear to both the E.U. and U.S. The U.S. Russia has given special attention to because the U.S. has a large amount of influence over Albanians.

Once again, so the Russians care. What’s the big deal? Well, it’s kind of a big deal that the Russians control a permanent veto-wielding seat on the U.N. Security Council.

The United States needs the United Nations, specifically the Security Council, to impose sanctions on Iran, so Iran can be isolated (once again, coming back to that in a couple of weeks). The sanctions will only be effective if the United States can prove international unity on the issue, which right now it has not, primarily because of Russia and China.

Let’s recap. Kosovo declaring independence would be bad, because it would anger Russia, who the U.S. needs to help sanction Iran at the Security Council.

Expect to see Russia flexing its muscles for two reasons in the coming days and weeks. One, to send a message Mr. Thaci and the rest of Kosovo. Two, to publicly remind the U.S. Kosovo declaring independence would not help the American cause at the U.N.

Want more on Russian influence? Check out last week's post Russian Chess in the Middle East.