Russian President Vladimir Putin citing an International Court of Justice ruling on Kosovo to justify Moscow recognising the independence of Ukrainian breakaway regions Donetsk and Luhansk means he actually recognises Kosovo as an independent state Srecko Đukić, Serbia’s former Ambassador in Belarus, has said.

The self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Luhansk have the same right to declare independence as Kosovo, based on the precedent set by the international court’s ruling,  Putin said in a statement at Tuesday’s (26 April) meeting with UN Secretary-General António Guterres, the diplomat, who is also a member of the Belgrade NGO Forum for International Relations, recalled.

In the talks, Putin told Guterres that “the decision of the UN International Court of Justice on Kosovo, that in exercising the right to self-determination, the territory of a state is not obliged to apply for permission to declare its sovereignty to the country’s central authorities,” Russian news agency TASS reported.

“Putin actually said that he recognises the independence of Kosovo and everything that Kosovo did with its sponsors,” Đukić told the Beta news agency.

According to him, international law has set a precedent, “and we should add that the Russian side invoked the Kosovo precedent in 2008 when South Ossetia and Abkhazia declared independence and were recognised by Moscow.”

“Moscow has taken what is probably the deciding step in recognising Kosovo and certainly making it easier for Washington and the West to resolve it,” Đukić said.

Serbia has again chosen a path oblivious to the interests of the great powers, sitting blindly on two or three chairs in the pursuit of what has turned out simply to be a policy of ‘sticking its head in the sand, the retired diplomat added.