Russia opposes Kosovo independence, signs pipeline deal with Serbia

Business Materials 25 February 2008 16:28 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) - Moscow remains firmly opposed to Kosovo's independence, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said in Belgrade Monday.

"We are in a position that Serbia is an integral country with jurisdiction over its whole territory and we will remain on that principled position," Medvedev said after meeting Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia a week ago, a move which the United States and leading Western countries recognized, but Belgrade and Moscow consider illegal.

Serbia's relations with the West cooled additionally after demonstrating mobs broke into, vandalized and torched the US embassy. Diplomatic missions of some other countries regarded as hostile by Serbs were also attacked, ransacked and defaced.

Apart from offering support to the diplomatically embattled Serbia, Medvedev - Russia's likely next president - came to Belgrade to seal a deal on the construction of the Serbian branch of the South Stream gas pipeline.

Within the same broad energy package, apart from setting a joint venture with Serbia to build the pipeline branch, the Russian giant Gazprom would purchase a majority stake in Serbia's oil monopoly NIS.