That is the question and only time will tell. The article continues on the "what if" premise it is.
The recent Kosovoian Declaration of Independence from Serbia may then be a pivotal if not a paradigm changing global development, made even more interesting from several unique perspectives. At best, it poisons relations between Russia (and China) and the West for many years to come.
First, similarities to the U.S. situation in 1776 are apparent, from the single standpoint that Kosovo's fleeing the nest is neither being welcomed nor approved by the party whom independence is being sought. In fact, that U.S. declaration was followed by years of war. Is war in the cards here too?
Perhaps so with the new declaration being viewed similarly by Serbia with complete un-acceptance and denial and considered tantamount to a "hostile secession" that won't be allowed. Made even more ominous (in terms of Serb reaction) in that Kosovo is considered by many Serbs as the underpinning of all things Serbia. This affiliation/affection noted in a Feb. 25, 2008 AP article, which cites "Serbs consider Kosovo the heart of their ancient homeland and the cradle of their Serbian Orthodox faith, and reject its independence as illegal".
Of course, secession debates and how best to present and manage an independence initiative aside for the moment, from a pure human rights perspective however, one can fully and wholeheartedly support the Kosovo declaration when considering a Feb. 23, 2008 New York Times article on human rights abuses. It cites "Belgrade has never demonstrated any remorse for the carnage unleashed by former dictator Slobodan Milosevic on Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority – nor any willingness to negotiate the (Kosovo) province's independence".
Second and ironically too, the Balkans have a history of providing lightning rod like global impact. This recent "local" Balkan event, with tiny Serbian province Kosovo at the epi-center, is not dissimilar to the "global" chain reaction-like unleashing of war declarations, emanating from the July 1914 "local" rift between Serbia and Austria-Hungary.
This latest Balkan action too may have now in similar fashion to 1914, precipitated yet another onslaught of global alliance moves and/or confirmations. An "are you with me or against me" type tally so to speak may be underway with NATO and Russia and their respective and/or desired allies. This time, and again with Serbia at the center of the controversy, the Kosovoian independence action, is rocking the halls of power from Washington to London to Belgrade to Moscow to Beijing, and all in between. Unlike 1914 however, the event is not setting off cries for "global" (military) war, but rather triggering a tsunami of declarations of global (re)alignment and commitment. "Local" war is certainly not out of the question as discussed below.
The Analyst notes however recent Russian saber rattling being disturbingly and eerily reminiscent of precedent events by the former Soviet Union in Hungary and Czechoslovakia in the 50's and '60's. Evidence (as noted in same New York Times article above) last Friday's warning by the Russian envoy to NATO stating that Russia might use "brute military force" if the NATO peacekeeping forces are expanded in Kosovo.
On the heels of those belligerent comments, comes more disturbing, threatening rhetoric as cited in the Feb. 25, 2008 AP article, which states "Russian President Vladimir Putin has said Kosovo's declaration represented "a terrifying precedent," and warned the West that the decision would "come back to knock them on the head."
Fanning the flames even further and boxing both sides further into a corner, a Feb. 25, 2008 Reuters report notes the following:
"Serbia intends to rule parts of Kosovo where "loyal citizens" still look to Belgrade for government", Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica said on Monday, in a fresh challenge to the West, which backs Kosovo's independence, and in particular to the European Union, which is due to take over from the United Nations as Kosovo's supervisor... He further said "Serbia would do all in its power to exert its authority. Serbia will do everything to implement its jurisdiction and state prerogatives for all loyal citizens in Kosovo -- Serbs and non-Albanians," Kostunica said..."There cannot be normalization of relations with the states that recognized Kosovo independence until they annul their decision," he added....Kostunica won renewed backing from ally Russia, whose likely next president, Dmitry Medvedev, made a high-profile visit to say Moscow would continue to back Serbian sovereignty, despite Western support for the independence of Kosovo. Medvedev said "there would be no shift in Russia's support for Serbia...We assume that Serbia is a single state whose jurisdiction covers all of its territory. We will stick to this position," Medvedev said.
Analyst Note: The Analyst specifically highlights ("GUARANTEED" President to be) Medvedev's (see Analyst's previous Putin/Medvedev article – link below) direct intervention, as cause for grave concern and a marker this powder keg is ready to explode. Medvedev's involvement is part of Putin's overall choreographing; another ratchet up in his dual and integrated Kosovo Crisis and Russia global PR escalation plan. His involvement will escalate greatly post the March 2, 2008 Russian Presidential Election; better characterized as the March 2, 2008 Putin to Medvedev "Presidential Handoff", and that strictly in title only.
Interestingly, as a side note on the Russian Presidential election, Article 81, Point 3 of the Russian Constitution states that no one may hold the office of President for more than two terms in succession.
"Succession" being the operative word.
Upon assuming Prime Minister following Mr. Medvedev's inauguration as President, Mr. Putin then has a green light per the Constitution to seek the Presidency again in the next election, as his two consecutive terms are now broken and officially over, and the clock begins anew. Also, the Constitution states the Prime Minister is first-in-line to the presidency in the event the president dies, resigns or is rendered incapable.
On these two or three potentially mid term Presidential power changing events, clearly Mr. Medvedev's resignation early on or anywhere really during in his term, while a (very) distinct possibility would be viewed by the world as confirmation the entire 2008 Presidential election was staged (i.e. a sham) as part of a calculated grand plan (by and) for Vladimir Putin to retain Presidential power. On the others (dies or rendered inapable), "what if" however, Mr. Medvedev met an unexpected and unfortunate demise during his term either from natural causes or possibly as the recent horrific case with Ms. Bhutto brought reality home to all, not from natural causes. The latter certainly not out of the realm of possibility in this increasingly risky, unpredictable and unstable global environment.
In that latter scenario, per the Constitution, Mr. Putin would immediately re-emerge as President and then presumably rally Russia around its fallen leader and demand justice against "those responsible". A scenario playing on the sympathies, emotions and nationalistic feelings of the Russian people, making it even easier for Mr. Putin to further consolidate his power and support domestically and to a degree even more so internationally. From appearances, the latter scenario deflects and mitigates much of the criticism he'd surely endure from the simple (sham) resignation scenario.