On YouTube, I heard Can Kosovo survive as an independent state?, which states that Russia prevents Kosovo from joining the United Nations (UN) because Russia backs Serbia, and Serbia doesn't want Kosovo to be independent.

So, what's in it for Russia?

  • 5
    Ethnic solidarity and influence
    – Colin
    Apr 18, 2017 at 22:00
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    To add to @ColinZwanziger's answer, these are the same reasons that were the immediate causes of WWI. Russia was on Serbia's side against the Austro-Hungarian Empire which for the same reasons was backed by the German Empire and then the dominoes "came tumbling down".
    – MasB
    Apr 18, 2017 at 23:04
  • According to Russia, it is opposed to Kosovo joining the UN because it thinks that Kosovo is run by a drug cartel.
    – markvs
    Jul 9, 2020 at 18:14

5 Answers 5

  1. Chechnya and Russia's multi-ethnic confederated nature.

    Russia hates the idea of independence movements and especially their success/recognition, given it is itself a confederation of ethnic areas some of which aren't all to happy to be in the confederation. The main parallel is Chechnya - which is also a rebellious Muslim-majority province trying to gain independence.

    As such, recognition of Kosovo would create a precedence for such independence movements.

    (this might seem a bit hypocritical in contrast to Russia's handling of the situations in Ukraine or Georgia, but this doesn't invalidate the reason above).

  2. It's popular with Russians.

    Any support for brother Slavs plays well with Russian populace; especially when Pindostan (Russian's insulting term for USA) is on the opposition's side.

  3. Somewhat related to #2, historical entanglements.

    Russia's backing of Serbia isn't exactly a new development - previously, a less-known conflict involving Serbia got Russia involved in certain unpleasantness with a couple of other countries on European continent.

  • 1
    Could you cite sources for your answer? It sounds more like informed opinion than provable fact. Apr 19, 2017 at 2:44
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    Russia hates the idea of independence movements Huh ? What about Crimea, Dombass, southern Ossetia, Abkhazia, Transsynistria ? Those are all independant movement which are backed up by Russia. It might be "hypocrit", but it's a fact Russia loves independance movements when those are on Russia's side.
    – Bregalad
    Apr 19, 2017 at 10:04
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    @Bregalad see the bracket below that statement. Although I'd say Russia is "competing" for that medal, rather than winning it outright (cough lets bomb civilians in the war on terror cough).
    – Peter
    Apr 19, 2017 at 10:08
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    I think you can replace "larger slavic scale" by "larger slavic orthodox christian scale". Most people in the balkan are slavic and do not enjoy Russian "symathy" (Croatians, Bulgarians, ...). Plenty of other slavic nations do not have strong ties to Russia (Poland, Slovakia, ...). Apr 19, 2017 at 12:20
  • @user5751924 - good point
    – user4012
    Apr 19, 2017 at 12:25

The reason is the dominant religion in both countries. Both have predominantly Orthodox Christian population.

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    Can you provide some support for your suggestion that this is the reason for Russian support? It's certainly a plausible theory, but is there any evidence that this is the case?
    – divibisan
    Jul 9, 2020 at 15:35
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    @divibisan This is the view that is widespread in the Christian community. I've heard it from my friends in Montenegro, for example, that they expect protection from their "Russian brothers" as the countries are both Orthodox Christian. I suppose there is a certain lobby or connections through the Orthodox church leaders.
    – MindYB
    Jul 9, 2020 at 15:40

The bond between Serbia and Russia today is especially linked towards the war: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russia%E2%80%93Serbia_relations#1991%E2%80%932000

Here Nato went into what Russia would say was sovereign territory and played an active role in that war against the Serbs.

Anyway, the only thing I would say is "in it for Russia" is to have an ally in Serbia.

  • 1
    This is wrong. Yugoslavia was specifically a nominally non-aligned country and supposedly Stalin bitterly disliked Tito afterwards. Yes, Yugoslavia was a Communist country, but no, it wasn't an ally, just like Finland aimed to stay neutral rather align formally with the West. Jul 10, 2020 at 4:13
  • @ItalianPhilosophers4Monica you are absolutly right. I will edit: "their satellite territory" to "sovereign territory" Jul 10, 2020 at 7:16

Several factors can explain the Russian "backing" of Serbia :

  • Serbs & Russians are both Orthodox Slavic nations.

  • Historically, the two nations were both on the same side of WW1 & WW2, and have ties predating those wars.

  • Serbia and Russia are both at odds with NATO & the USA.

  • In the current Balkan Game, Serbia is a "client" for Russian influence, through Russia's upholding of UNSC resolution 1244 (10/06/1999) which states that Kosovo & Metohija - currently occupied by NATO in virtue of the Kumanovo Agreement (9/06/1999) putting an official end to the Kosovo War - is a territory of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia - and so, nowadays, a province of the Republic of Serbia, successor State of FR.Yugoslavia after the independence of Montenegro in 2006 - and its status cannot be changed without the consent of Belgrade, a consent which hasn't been formally given yet. Hence, as long as the UNSC resolution 1244 remained backed by Russia (and China), Kosovo cannot join the United Nations as a member.

  • Both countries' governments can be considered as "hybrid regimes", where the rulers are elected through multipartite elections, but the political life is mainly dominated by one party (United Russia for Russia, Serbian Progressive Party for Serbia). Birds of the same feather tend to flock together.


It goes back to the great schism in Christendom of 1054, between the western chuch centred on Rome and the eastern on Constantinople. (See map)

Croatia, where they speak much the same language as Serbia, but using the Latin script rather than the Cyrillic; and where the principal confession is Roman Catholic rather than Greek Orthodox, was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire prior to WW1.

Pan-Slavist tendencies link Russia to support of the Orthodox parts of Eastern Europe. The Serbs were also influential in the eviction of the Turks from Europe.

All these factors have created a bond between Russia and Serbia which has lasted for centuries.

This is the short answer!

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