Nato troops secured a hostile strip of north Kosovo on Tuesday after Serb riots in Mitrovica killed one Ukrainian United Nations police officer and forced the pull-out of UN personnel from the Serb stronghold. The violence was the worst since Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority declared independence from Serbia on February 17.
Kosovo looked forward on Monday to recognition by the Western powers who went to war to save its Albanian majority, but Russia served notice the new state will never be forced on its Serb allies in the territory. Fireworks brought to a close a day of celebration in the Kosovo capital Pristina, where Parliament adopted a declaration of independence from Serbia.
The breakaway province of Kosovo holds a parliamentary election on Saturday, ahead of a showdown with Serbia over the ethnic Albanian majority's demand for independence. Prime Minister Agim Ceku is stepping down, so the election will bring in new leadership.
There was a ''whiff of statehood'' in the cold air in Kosovo on Friday, according to the Pristina daily Express. ''The whole world is watching Martti Ahtisaari's briefcase, which is bringing Kosovo the right to self-determination,'' the paper wrote.