Study on Russian influence in Kosovo

Study on Russian influence in Kosovo
 The Kosovo Center for Security Studies said in a study that Russia is using its influence to thwart recognition of Kosovo's independence and prevent its membership in international organizations, but it is impossible to extend its influence inside Kosovo because of the majority of the Albanian population.

These comments were made at a conference on the analysis of Russian influence in Kosovo, where are shown some data from a study conducted under the Fulbright Specialist program, supported by the US State Department and the US Embassy in Pristina.

The study's author, Elis Vlasi, said Serbia was the cause of Russia's influence in Kosovo.

"In Kosovo we see that the Russian influence is not aimed at Albanians, to influence the majority population to look at the Russian point of view, is not to win the minds and hearts of Albanians, but the influence is directed against Kosovo as a state and possibly towards society. Kosovo,” he said.

Study on Russian influence in Kosovo
 Elis Vlasi
Mr. Vlasi said the Russians want to influence Kosovo because of the presence of NATO and the European Union. He said Russia is trying to build its image as a world power and as a force or country that is inevitable when it comes to the Balkans.

"Another Russian objective in Kosovo is to have influence over Serbia to support and protect Serbia's interests and Serbs have somehow allowed that influence," he said.

Mr. Vlasi said that according to the study, which will be published next month, the Russians have nothing against Kosovo's independence since they have not had it against other Balkan countries that have gained independence. But he says the Russians are looking for something from Western countries.

"You accept the annexation of Crimea maybe we will recognize Kosovo's independence, something along this line," he said.

According to the compiler of the report, Kosovo Serbs are the ones most easily influenced by Russia.

“Kosovo Serbs are not autonomous agents in Kosovo, they always object and not subject. And when Kosovo Serbs are being influenced by Russians in Kosovo, they are affected because Serbia allows it,” he said, noting that the Russian presence in Kosovo is also seen through the Pristina liaison office, links through the Serbian Orthodox Church.

"You will not find any Albanian, Kosovo Albanian who is pro-Russia for any reason. The direction of the majority of the population in Kosovo is pro-Western, mainly pro-American, and they have no sympathy for Russian culture, Russian population, Russian history and Russian politics,” Mr Vlasi said.

However, he said that no one is immune to Russian influence and that it would be unrealistic to think that even Albanians would not be affected.

“Their greatest level of influence is essentially the exploration of Kosovo society. So with institutional weakness, that for Russia or any other hostile power is able to capitalize," he said.

According to the study, frequent elections, lack of coordination between security institutions, lack of rule of law, corruption and organized crime are some of the issues used by Russia in its efforts to influence Kosovo.

Mr. Vlasi says that there is a lot of internal misinformation and propaganda in Kosovo that is used especially during election time, which makes it very easy for foreign agents to fake it.

According to the study, Russia uses propaganda to present itself as a defender of the Serbian state.

"Russia supports Serbia's claims on Kosovo, it is capable of using diplomacy, the economy, and the military to support Serbia. Russia is able to prevent the normalization and favor the destabilization of Kosovo and this leads to one of the ways to stop the enlargement of the European Union and prevent states from joining NATO or other organizations," Mr. Vlasi said.

Vlasi says Russia uses fake news to portray Kosovo as a convenient place for terrorists and Albanians as supporters of terrorism, and this is then used by Serbia and Russia to influence other countries not to recognize Kosovo's independence.

But what is the extent of Russian influence in Kosovo?

“Maximum influenza is impossible in Kosovo, so yes, it has Russian influence but it is not great. The reason why it is difficult to extend Russian influence in Kosovo is that the majority of the population, more than 90 percent of the population has no cultural, religious or ethnic affiliation with Russia, no opinion on what Russia has to offer, most of the population in Kosovo, including Serbs, are heading west. The presence of the United States, NATO, and various European Union institutions narrows the scope for Russia to operate in Kosovo," he said, noting that those who think Russian influence in Kosovo is zero, are wrong.
Study on Russian influence in Kosovo Study on Russian influence in Kosovo Friday, February 07, 2020 Rating: 5
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