Independent Russian Media React to Kosovo’s Independence Declaration

Independent Russian Media React to Kosovo’s Independence Declaration

As the Russian government strongly condemns Kosovo's declaration of independence, Russia's independent media voices are reacting with ambivalence to the dispute between their country and most of its Western interlocutors. Among reporters who maintain some distance from the Kremlin, the general tone is one of disillusionment with the West and concern about the condition of the international system, rather than full endorsement of the Russian government's position.

On the one hand, there is a widespread sense that intemperate expressions of anger by Russian officials do the country no favors. In "Rogozin Threatens NATO" (, Feb. 22), Natalia Kuklina quotes Dmitrii Rogozin, the fiery nationalist who holds the position of permanent representative of Russia to NATO, who threatened that Russia could "use raw force" if NATO should violate Resolution 1244 (as he sees it) by denying officials of Serbia access to the territory of Kosovo. Kuklina writes that Rogozin's outburst threatens to "ruin relations" between Russia and the North Atlantic alliance.

On the other hand, even media commentators who often criticize Russia's international position find it difficult to endorse the legality of Kosovo's act or the U.S. and European response to it. Speaking on the talk show "Osoboe Mnenie" (RTVI/Radio Ekho Moskvy, Feb. 21), commentator Leonid Radzikhovskii, generally notable for his acerbic disdain for Kremlin policy, drew a sharp distinction between the substance of the Russian government's position and how the government has chosen to couch it. By hinting that Russia could reevaluate its relations with the two Georgian breakaway de facto statelets of Abkhazia and Southern Ossetia, he said, the Kremlin has surrendered the moral high ground. As he put it, Russia has "spit into the wind," i.e., damaged its own foreign policy interests, primarily for the purpose of satisfying domestic public opinion, which strongly favors Serbia. Yet, at the same time, Radzikhovskii fully endorsed the Russian Foreign Ministry's position that Kosovo's independence is an unlawful act, and he called U.S. and European diplomatic recognition of Kosovo "lamentable stupidity."

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