Russia will not support independence for Kosovo: Putin

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Moscow, January 18 (UNI) Russian President Vladimir Putin today said any ''illegal and immoral'' decision by Kosovo to declare unilateral independence would not be supported.

''The unilateral declaration of Kosovo independence and the support of this process by other members of the international community would be illegal and Russia will not support it,'' Ria Novosti quoted Mr Putin as saying after talks with his Bulgarian counterpart Georgi Parvanov in Sofia.

The Albanian-dominated Serbian province has been a UN protectorate since the NATO bombing of the former Yugoslavia ended a conflict between Albanian and Serb forces in 1999.

Most Western states back the volatile area's drive for independence, and recently agreed that Kosovo's status would be determined by the European Union and NATO. Russia insists that Belgrade and Pristina continue to seek a compromise.

Kosovo's newly elected Prime Minister Hashim Thaci earlier said Pristina's independence was an accomplished fact and would be declared as soon as the United States and the European Union were ready to recognise it.

Serbian President Boris Tadic had called upon the United Nation, council to abide by its own resolutions and the Charter.

UN Resolution reaffirmed the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to which Serbia is now the recognised successor state, and established that Kosovo was to remain part of Serbia.

Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin reiterated on Wednesday that the future of Kosovo was a Security Council issue and said council members should prepare a roadmap that would provide solutions to overcome the differences in approaches to Kosovo's status.

UNI XC SYU RAI2208

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