UNITED NATIONS – Russia tried to block Kosovo's independence during a closed-door emergency session of the U.N. Security Council on Sunday, and said it is concerned about the Serbs who are living in the territory.
The council met at the request of Russia, which argues that the declaration of independence from Serbia made earlier Sunday violates the council's orders and other U.N. rules.
Kosovo hopes for international recognition that could come on Monday when European Union ministers meet in Brussels, Belgium. Russia, which has veto power on the council, insists Kosovo is a Security Council issue — not an EU issue — and argues that Kosovo's move sets a dangerous precedent for separatist groups globally.
Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said Russia was "highly concerned" about Kosovo's seeking international recognition as an independent nation and that the Security Council would "consider in two stages, the situation which has been created by an attempt by Pristina to declare unilateral independence of Kosovo."
He specifically addressed the minority Serbs living in enclaves in Kosovo.
"Our concern is for the safety of the Serbs and other ethnic minorities in Kosovo," Churkin said. "We'll strongly warn against any attempts at repressive measures, should Serbs in Kosovo decide not to comply with this unilateral proclamation of independence."
Kosovo's 2 million people is 90 percent ethnic Albanian, mainly secular Muslims, who do not want to be part of Serbia, a predominately Christian Orthodox nation.
The 15-member council remains deeply divided on the future of Kosovo. Russia backs its close ally Serbia, while Britain, France and other European Union members are supporting the Kosovo Albanians.
The Security Council's president scheduled the emergency "consultations" for Sunday after Russian and Serbian diplomats sent letters requesting such talks. During the closed-door session, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was expected to brief the council members on the situation in Kosovo.
A more formal meeting, with a possible vote by the council, has been scheduled for Monday. "We'll insist that it should be an open meeting, and we expect that the president of Serbia will participate," Churkin said.