Russia's Medvedev warns Kosovo's independence could set Europe ablaze
The Associated Press Published: February 27, 2008

MOSCOW: The man all but certain to win Russia's presidency warned Wednesday that Kosovo's independence could destabilize Europe.

First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who is expected to easily win Sunday's presidential vote, said Kosovo's independence has "jeopardized security and stability of the vast region."

Medvedev said recognition of Kosovo's declaration Feb. 17, spearheaded by the United States, has "put Europe in a very difficult situation."

"The United States is far away and is not facing any risks, but Europe could go ablaze," he said in a campaign speech in the Volga River city of Nizhny Novgorod. "It's enough to put a match to set everything ablaze."

Russia has vocally condemned Kosovo's independence from Serbia and its recognition by the U.S. and major EU powers, saying it violates international law and threatens to destroy the existing system governing international relations.

Medvedev said Wednesday that Kosovo's independence could encourage a rise in organized crime and drug trafficking across Europe — which would threaten Russia, among other nations.

He promised that Moscow would continue to offer political support to Serbia and said that a new Russian natural gas pipeline would provide "significant" economic assistance to Belgrade.

President Vladimir Putin sent Medvedev to Belgrade on Monday to supervise the signing of a deal for the South Stream pipeline, which would run under the Black Sea from Russia to Bulgaria before extending to Serbia and, possibly, other European nations.

The agreement will make Serbia a key hub for Russia's energy supplies to the European continent. ... dvedev.php