( RIA Novosti ) - Russia's foreign minister accused Western countries on Monday of fueling Kosovo's drive for independence by neglecting Pristina's violations of a United Nations resolution.
UN Resolution 1244 establishes the predominantly Albanian region as part of Serbia.
"The conniving indifference of our Western partners toward violations [of the UN resolution] by Kosovo Albanians and their attempts to avoid proper actions to enforce the full implementation of this resolution, have inspired a psychological drive toward Kosovo independence," Sergei Lavrov said in an interview with Russia's Itogi magazine.
Kosovo has been a UN protectorate ever since NATO's bombing of the former Yugoslavia in 1999 ended a bloody war between Serb forces and Muslim Albanian separatists in the region. Negotiations on final status of Kosovo have so far stalled, with Belgrade offering broad autonomy to the province and Pristina insisting on full sovereignty.
The U.S. and some EU states have pushed for Kosovo's independence, while Russia says that security and humanitarian requirements must be met first and that independence would set a dangerous precedent, including for post-Soviet states.
Lavrov said Kosovo leaders were using pure blackmail to justify plans for full autonomy form Serbia, and that the West is sliding down a dangerous path in succumbing to demands put forward by Kosovo Albanians.
"Our Western partners are succumbing to this blackmail and are starting to say that if we don't give Kosovo independence, it will cause an outbreak of violence," he said. "To threaten us with violence and disorder if we refuse to make certain decisions is a dangerous and slippery path, which may have repercussions far away from Kosovo."
A crucial round of negotiations between Serb and Kosovo Albanian leaders is scheduled to begin on Monday in the Austrian spa town of Baden.
The UN has set December 10 as a deadline for a status agreement, but Kosovo leaders earlier said they will declare independence unilaterally in January next year if a settlement is not reached.
Lavrov reiterated that "if the West recognizes Kosovo as an independent state, Russia will act in accordance with international law."
"I can guarantee this with 100% certainty," he said.