His comments came after Serbia on February 8 formally requested a delay in the final talks on the future status of Kosovo, which are scheduled to begin on February 13 in Vienna, Austria.
Today, ethnic Serbs in Kosovo are to hold protests in northern Mitrovica against the UN draft plan for the future status of the province. On February 10, ethnic Albanians have vowed to protest the UN plan in the province's capital, Pristina.
Ethnic Albanians, who make up 90 percent of Kosovo's 2 million people, have rejected Serbian offers of broad autonomy and are demanding independence.
Meanwhile, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov today warned that independence for Kosovo would open a "Pandora's box" of similar demands from other breakaway territories across Europe.
Russia's Foreign Ministry has said that international efforts to settle Kosovo's status must respect Serbia's internal politics and not impose artificial deadlines. The comments come after Russia's ally Serbia last week rejected a UN plan supporting greater autonomy for Kosovo.
(AP, Reuters, dpa)
WILL THE KREMLIN BACK INDEPENDENCE? As the drive for independence grows in the Serbian province of Kosovo, the international community is speculating on how Russia, a veto-wielding member of the UN Security Council, will act. On September 22, Nicholas Whyte, director of the International Crisis Group's Europe Program, gave a briefing on the subject at RFE/RL's Washington, D.C., office. He speculated on what the Kremlin's "price" might be for agreeing to Kosovo's separation from Serbia.
LISTENListen to the entire briefing (about 45 minutes):
Real Audio Windows Media