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Former Soviet President Says West Setting 'Dangerous Precedent' in Kosovo

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev says the West is setting a dangerous precedent by threatening to bypass the U.N. Security Council to decide the fate of Kosovo.

In an article published Saturday in a Russian state daily newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta, Mr. Gorbachev writes that the West's intent to recognize Kosovo when the breakaway Serbian province declares independence is a "dangerous precedent" for "international law and international security."

Last week, Western members of the U.N. Security Council said that further negotiation on Kosovo's plan to declare independence would be pointless after talks failed to sway Russia - a Council member with veto power.

Mr. Gorbachev says that by rejecting further U.N. talks, Western powers are effectively transferring responsibility for the resolution of the Kosovo problem to the European Union and NATO.

Kosovo's majority ethnic Albanian population is expected to declare independence from Serbia early next year. Many Western countries are expected to recognize it.

Serbia has offered broad autonomy to Kosovo Albanians along with many elements of statehood, but has insisted on retaining sovereignty over the territory. Kosovo Albanians insist on complete independence.

Kosovo has been under U.N. administration since 1999, when NATO airstrikes drove Serbian and Yogoslav security forces from the province.