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Web extra: Despite Putin claim, Kosovo bears ‘no resemblance’ to case of Crimea, says former U.S. diplomat

March 25th, 2014
11:03 AM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

Russian President Vladimir Putin last week cited the “well-known Kosovo precedent” in justifying his country’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

Strobe Talbott, who served as U.S. Deputy Secretary of State during the Kosovo conflict, under U.S. President Bill Clinton, called that analogy “bizarre.”

“That couldn’t be further from the truth,” Tablott said.

“Kosovo, remember, was a Muslim-dominated part … of Serbia, where the central government – dominated by the Serbs – were carrying out acts of virtually genocide. They were certainly doing ethnic cleansing, they were massacring people.”

“And it was a result of that there was an international invention, an armed intervention, to stop the killing.”

It was only years later peace was brokered – brokered with the assistance of Russian President Boris Yeltsin, Talbott said – that Kosovo gained independence from Serbia.

“It bears no resemblance whatsoever to the case of Crimea and Ukraine.”

Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Russia • Ukraine
soundoff (37 Responses)
  1. Mike Simms

    The Serbian government was not carrying out acts of genocide. That's a very convenient lie. The Serbian army went into the province of Kosovo because the Albanian guerrilla army (KLA) was committing crimes and atrocities against the minority Serb population who were living there. If anything, the Serb army had every right to go in and protect their people. The only time that there was any credible genocide was when NATO started bombing the country. Alternatively, that produced several thousand civilian deaths alone. It's funny how quick the political class can point out that Putin has no need to go into Crimea and protect Russian civilians when there isn't any threat of violence. But when the Serbs did, they were just bombed. Now conveniently again, there is a U.S. army base in Kosovo and the Albanian 'Liberation' Army was removed from the International list of terrorist groups shortly thereafter. Seems that International Law is only applied when the G7 want it to be.

    March 25, 2014 at 11:16 am | Reply
    • Bekim

      Mr.Mike Simms, I can see that you are not enough informed about what happened in Kosovo for past 100 years!
      If you are interested to know how and why KLA was established during 1998 and why NATO bombed Serbija, just e-mail me, I can provide books and different literature for you!
      Have you ever herd about 20,000 woman raped, more than 13,000 civilians killed, 200,000 homes, schools and religion cults burned, around a million people deported from their homes, over 2000 people still missing even after 15 years etc!? This has been done by Serbija in Kosovo.

      March 25, 2014 at 12:33 pm | Reply
      • Ratim

        I am really glad that there are people like Mike, who don't let the media brainwash them and who don't eat what is served to them in the form of propaganda and controlled media news.

        Kosovo situation: Most of the Albanians came to Kosovo(Serbia) by immigrating from Albania for better life, then they became majority in Kosovo and systematically abused Serbian minority causing them to move out from Kosovo, resulting in population of Kosovo being 90% Albanian. Then they got even more arrogant and wanted to become independent and continued now with arms to kill civilians and the police. When Serbian army retaliated, the West took advantage of this to attack Serbia, not because that was the right reason but because they wanted to have an army base there and they wanted to punish disobedient Serbia for not being a good servant and doing what is told.

        Now, to be clear, this is not limited to Serbia, that is being done to any other country that can be bullied and is not collaborating. Again, I am not saying that the US is the worst country in the world, far from that, and I am pretty sure that if lets say China, or Russia, or god forbid North Korea or Albania would be such super powers they would be acting much worse, but I am just saying it how it is right now.

        March 25, 2014 at 1:40 pm |
      • dmilivojevic

        "20,000 woman raped"

        Care to show some credible source for your claims?
        This is simply propaganda that was used in Bosnia also.
        UN found no evidence of such wild claims in Bosnia and I suspect the same for Kosovo.

        March 25, 2014 at 3:29 pm |
      • Jeff

        The numbers simply don't work. 20,000 women raped? There were about 100,000 Serb men in Kosovo in 1995, compared to just under 1M Albanian men. 1 in every 5 men of Serb ethnicity would have had to rape a Albanian woman, and that is assuming that all did so without retaliation from the Albanians. Unlikely, considering the ethnic groups are rather segregated in the country.

        Undoubtedly, there were numerous crimes committed by both sides in the conflict that should not go unpunished. To pretend that it is all on one side, though, is silly.

        March 26, 2014 at 12:55 pm |
      • Vladimir Stanescu

        I can also provide you different books and literature. Obviously, the brainwashing used by the Americans works better, it is highly financed. It all proved lies, like the mass destruction weapons in Irak, or the missiles in Siria. The Americans are motivated by only one thing, and we all know what it is.
        Let us be very clear: if Kosovo was legal, then Crimea is too, no matter what lies you will be brainwashed with.

        April 8, 2014 at 4:32 pm |
      • Vladimir Stanescu

        Why not 200.000 women raped ? You will believe anything if it's well "packaged".
        I watched in horror as the "most democratic nation", who "fights for liberty" sits at the treaty table with KLA,
        a TERRORIST organization by all standards. Does anybody see what is really happening ?
        Will anybody ever see ?
        The answer is no.

        April 8, 2014 at 4:40 pm |
    • Laox

      Convinient lie Mr.SImms?! Maybe getting a chance to speak to people that lived in Kosovo during those years and survived like myself would make you think twice about expressing opinions like that in the future. Nothing was reported in the media compare to how it was to live it. We were suffering and getting killed long before KLA made an appearance. What serbia did in Kosovo was genocide and ethnic cleansing pure and simple!

      March 25, 2014 at 1:51 pm | Reply
      • Pete

        A lot of the reported deaths of Kosovo's ethnic Albanian population were the result of the Army's crackdown on the KLA. Why was there a crackdown? The KLA kept killing police officers and civilians. What would any country do? The US would kill indiscriminately, as they did in Iraq (60,400 dead civilians) and Afghanistan (14,728 dead civilians).

        If 10 family members died inside of a house, it was because 3 members belonged to the KLA and were engaging the Army, endangering the lives of everyone. The KLA takes no personal responsibility for putting their own family’s lives in danger. The KLA is also rarely prosecuted for their crimes against humanity.

        That’s not to say the Serbian government wasn’t wrong for its aggressive response to terrorism. Members of the Serbian Army were so angered by the actions of the KLA that they ended up slaughtering countless civilians as a result. These crimes should be punished.

        The Serbian government acted very poorly, and unfitting of a sitting government. They allowed themselves to act way too aggressively, should have used restraint, common sense, and should have won public support for their position, but they choose not to, which was their undoing.

        For the sake of comparison, grotesque atrocities occurred during Albanian collaboration with the Nazis in World War II. The Serbian population in Kosovo suffered for hundreds of years (15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th centuries) at the hands of Ottoman Turks & the Nazis committing ethnic cleansing along with Albanians. So this nonsense of “you are not enough informed about what happened in Kosovo for past 100 years!” can be dispelled right away.

        The Albanian/Serbian population split went from 3% Albanian & 96% Serbian (in 1321) to 32% Albanian & 64% Serbian (in 1871) to 91.5% Albanian & 1.5% Serbian (in 2011).

        March 26, 2014 at 3:31 pm |
    • Rj

      you my friend are an idiot. handsssdownnn just please never everrr talk about politics..serbians are animals not humans..

      March 25, 2014 at 2:13 pm | Reply
      • dmilivojevic

        "serbians are animals not humans.."

        Showing your true racist colours.

        March 25, 2014 at 3:25 pm |
    • whocares

      Yes, like in 1912 when Serbia burned Kosovo to the ground and killed tens of thousands of Albanian people. This information is not hard to find, because every major of this worlds newspaper reported about the cruel killing of Albanians at the hand of the Serbian army. And it wasn't only "Muslims" they were killing, but thousands of Catholics amongst which were many Priests and Friars. Where was America and NATO then? Convenient lie? You disgusting psychopath, have you ever been to Kosovo in the past 100 years? Nevermind the raping of Albanian woman, people died down there on a daily basis in the most cruel ways, an entire generation of older people and intellectuals was wiped out, most Albanians as a result became orphans, Albanians were not even allowed to learn their own language or open Albanian schools, smart people and most intellectuals were brutally murdered, sick and disabled people were on the other hand left alive to further dumb down the population in favor of Serbian superiority who studied mostly in foreign countries. Serbia with the help of it's friend Russia, systematically oppressed, cut and dissected Albanians like some kind of lab rats, as if they were taking part in some kind of experiment. This is the face of Serbia, it has no morals and has no place for human dignity in it's agenda. Either you are Serbian or part of the deeply nationalist Serbian-Orthodox Church, there is no place for other people who are not like them or speak the obvious tongue of God i.e. Serbian of course. Serbia is furious because it cannot sustain it's lies anymore, the century-old Serbian and Russian propaganda is not working anymore you will never put a foot into Albanian territory again.

      March 27, 2014 at 6:52 pm | Reply






    March 25, 2014 at 4:19 pm | Reply






    March 25, 2014 at 4:20 pm | Reply
  4. milan

    we are not from Albania, Kosova is Albania, as you know, its one Country,I think you should go where you come from, Ukrain – Russia. We have been here and we will stay here, we don't expect nothing more from criminal state of Serbia, always has been and will be. long live USA long live Germany, long live UK , finally we will be big country and we will defend our lands and fight our enemy SERBIA. PS by the way i'm Albanian who lives in Kosovo but came from Raci in Serbia , but we where kicked out from our land. You know from who.

    March 25, 2014 at 4:47 pm | Reply
  5. milan

    Hashim Thaqi should be hanged for letting this people in north do what ever they want, we can not make same mistake, SERB can not be trusted, we need to sleep with (Pushk) gun under pillow and defend our people,our country Killers are killers ,all serbs go out. or we will take you out , you will see.

    March 25, 2014 at 4:52 pm | Reply
  6. milan

    Bekim , don't be polite with this Simms, he know the truth better than you because they planned this, it didn't happen by chance, they planned worst but they didn't achieve their target. now is our turn not to forget and not to forgive, we must remember what our great grandparent tought us, never to trust Serbin.

    So don't try to lecture him because is not point . They are all Chetniks

    March 25, 2014 at 4:56 pm | Reply
    • Ratim

      There is one fact that speaks more than anything else. In the Balkans various nations hate other nations, however, they are all united in hating the most the Albanians. There must be a reason for that 🙂

      March 25, 2014 at 5:08 pm | Reply
      • Era

        You are correct. They are all united in their hatred against the Albanians. Any ideas why? Could it be because no matter how hard they tried throughout history to exterminate the Albanians, they ultimately FAILED. Albanians stand strong in the Balkans since the times before history was written in words. And today the language, Albanian is one of the oldest living languages in Europe, a testimony to its ancient past.
        Serbs, even by serb historians, are known to have left their home in the Carpathian mountains and invaded the balkans. But Serbs choose not to use the word invade, obviously. Who was living there when Serbs came during the 7th century from the north? No one? Was the land reserved for Serbs, and just stayed empty throughout history, just waiting for the Serbs to populate it?
        And by any definition, if you agree on the fact that you invaded from the north during the 7th century, what happened to the ones that were already living there. What did the Serbs do with them? Politely asked them to leave? Please.
        And if you simply look at the map and notice the location of the Albanians in comparison to the Serbs, Montenegrians (Serbs), Macedonians (Serbs) and Greeks (Serbs), you see how the Albanians where squeezed into a corner of the Balkans where no one can enter and invade due to the natural sheltering provided by the Albanian mountains.
        Serbs can start drafting another method to excuse any invasion of Kosova, rather than reusing the old phrase "We have build churches there, so it's ours". Yeah well, turks build hundreds of mosques in Athens (500 years old), should it be turkish now? No. You know why? Because there were still only greeks living there!!! Same thing in Kosovo. Just because you invaded and build churches didn't mean that Albanians left. It was still populated by Albanians you moron.

        March 26, 2014 at 5:11 am |
    • Pete

      Do you still have the ovens you built with the Germans? You know, about 6 feet high, you stuffed a lot of people in there to bake? Your hypocrisy and lack of legitimate, reasonable understanding is comical. Some could say you lost the legitimate ownership to the lands of Kosovo due to your human rights violations in collaborating with the Nazi Party.

      March 26, 2014 at 3:46 pm | Reply
  7. Western Propaganda

    Wiki: International Court of Justice advisory opinion on Kosovo's declaration of independence

    On 15 August 2008, Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremić officially filed a request at the United Nations seeking opinion of the International Court of Justice.


    On 22 July 2010, the court ruled that the declaration of independence was not in violation of international law.

    The President of the ICJ Justice Hisashi Owada said that international law contains no "prohibition on declarations of independence." The court also said while the declaration may not have been illegal, the issue of recognition was a political one.
    This is a direct precedent to the Crimea declaration, thus Crimea proclamation of independence does not break international law.

    March 25, 2014 at 8:25 pm | Reply
    • Scrut

      Thank you

      March 31, 2014 at 10:59 am | Reply
  8. Western Propaganda

    This is not the end.

    Pro-Western neo-nazis attacking civilian activists' cars in Eastern Ukraine:

    March 25, 2014 at 10:26 pm | Reply
  9. Western Propaganda

    The People's will in Eastern Ukraine:

    March 25, 2014 at 10:27 pm | Reply
  10. Jeff

    A) Crimes of genocide were committed by both sides in Kosovo. Don't forget many KLA members are on trial for war crimes.

    B) Even if it were a case, I have this simple question: why are insistent that genocide happens before the right to self determination is available? Wouldn't you rather the countries split before crimes occur?

    March 26, 2014 at 12:49 pm | Reply
  11. kingoftruthandowning

    This article is correct. You Serbians(Russian gypsies) need to stop spreading lies and bs everyone, every country in the world has seen the multiple genocides you animals had commited. Heck if i had the power I WOULD WIPE ALL OF YOU OUT.

    March 27, 2014 at 1:45 pm | Reply
  12. kingoftruthandowning

    Jeff first off when one country attacks you first and kills thousands of your people for no legit reason, that is a genocide.....if people are just defending themselves from being killed in there own home that is not a genocide. Learn/ Know/ think about what it is your saying before just making bs claims.

    March 27, 2014 at 1:49 pm | Reply
    • really

      Hitler also only defended germans against judish people. There is no excuse for terrible crimes done by Kosovan Armee, same for serbian crimes.
      Funny, but these folks are very similar, except kosovan get paid by US.

      March 29, 2014 at 11:59 pm | Reply
  13. milan


    love man, this is what I think too, criminals chetnics should be wiped out from this planet .long live great Albania.long live united states of alabnia , till nis.

    March 27, 2014 at 5:24 pm | Reply
  14. milan

    kosova eshte shqiperi deri ne shkup ulqin e qameri te gjith bejm nje memedhe ILIRI.

    March 27, 2014 at 5:26 pm | Reply
  15. kosova shtet

    kosova eshte shqiperi deri ne shkup ulqin e qameri te gjith bejm nje memedhe ILIRI.

    March 27, 2014 at 5:27 pm | Reply
  16. Scrut

    So what Strobe Talbott says is that a declaration of independence is only allowed if a Genocide is happening in a given nation?
    Sorry, but that's COMPLETE nonsense. There is no such rule in international law.

    If Kosovo was legal, then Crimea is, too.

    March 31, 2014 at 10:40 am | Reply
  17. Andrew

    It is in no way comparable. Milosevic in 1989 on the anniversary of the batte of Kosovo, wiled up Serb nationalism in the territories the Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences published a dichotomy promoting Serb nationalism. In 1989 the Serbs in Kosovo were complaining of abuses by the Albanian majority..fair enough. However in response Milosevic removed Kosovo's autonomy, removed Albanians from positions of authority, and banned Albanians from speaking the language in their communities. For about 8 years under Ibrahim Rugova the albanians launched a passive resistance campaign. The KLA formed later, and began attacking Serb police and army installations. The Serbs responded by massacring certain villages where "terrorist" were residing, then driving the residence out of the territory. This came AFTER the JNA and Serb paramilitaries committed mass ethnic cleansing in Croatia, genocide in Bosnia to expand territory under the pretext of them being threatened by every group other than Serbs. The world was on red alert for atrocities in Kosovo. Around late 98' the Serbs drove 50-60,000 Albanians into the mountains. The threat of force removed the Serb soldiers from the area. The KLA continued attacks against police installations...Racak followed. A peace conference at Rambouillett was held and the Kosovars agreed to 6 out of their 12 demands to end the war, the Serbs however refused to discuss any of the issues at the conference. Immediately following this the Serbs began forcibly removing about 200,000 Albanians and moved 40,000 JNA troops and paramilitaries in the territory. THEN NATO airstrikes began. Miloseic accelerated the cleansing process by driving 860,000 from the country, after frequently murdering the men of a village and raping man women. They then burnt the villages to prevent them from returning. When refugees would reach the border, Serb guards confiscated their Identifications, and burnt them. Human Rights watch reported the airstrikes killed about 5-600 Serb civilians, however the Serbs killed 9-12,000 Albanian civilians (according the HRW, and Tim Judahs "The Serbs") Many Serb troops had PTSD due to their feelings of them attacking civilians and not engaging in combat. See the ICTY court records, for information. They re NOT comparable.

    April 5, 2014 at 9:22 pm | Reply
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