Putin to host ex-Soviet leaders over Kosovo

Russian President Vladimir Putin was to host leaders of a group of ex-Soviet states on Friday, the Kremlin said, with Kosovo expected to figure high on the agenda.

Putin to host ex-Soviet leaders over Kosovo
The meeting of the Commonwealth of Independent States, a group of 12 ex-Soviet nations, was officially due to discuss economic cooperation, a Kremlin statement said.

It was also to feature a presentation by Putin's favoured successor at a March 2 presidential poll, Dmitry Medvedev.

But Russian newspapers predicted that Kosovo's declaration of independence from Serbia would loom large.

Russia, a permanent member of the UN Security Council, vehemently opposed Kosovo's independence declaration, reflecting Moscow's close ties with the leadership in Belgrade.

On Friday Russia's foreign ministry said it regretted attacks that have taken place on Western embassies in Belgrade but said Kosovo's backers were partly to blame.

At Friday's meeting Moscow will try "to persuade colleagues to stand united against the region of Kosovo," the Kommersant broadsheet quoted an unnamed Kremlin official as saying.

Another newspaper, Nezavisimaya Gazeta, said that the issue of two separatist territories in the ex-Soviet state of Georgia -- Abkhazia and South Ossetia -- could also arise.

While Russia has given those territories de facto backing it is unlikely to move to recognise them formerly, especially amid recent signs of an improvement in relations with Georgia, analysts say.

But Nezavisimaya Gazeta quoted an unnamed Russian foreign ministry official as saying that other ex-Soviet states, such as Belarus and Kyrgyzstan, could recognise Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 22 Şubat 2008, 17:09