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    Belarus' Lukashenko says 'no chance' for Kosovo opponents

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    "We lost our influence there long ago. We... betrayed our fraternal Slavic nation, we should have prevented it back then, there would not have been any question of independence today," Lukashenko said in an interview with RIA Novosti and the Russia Today TV channel.

    MINSK, February 19 (RIA Novosti) - Opponents of Kosovo's unilateral independence stand no chance of influencing local developments after failing to protect Serbia's integrity in 1999, the Belarusian leader said on Tuesday.

    The United States and a number of European countries have already recognized Kosovo's self-proclaimed independence. Russia has fiercely protested, calling for an emergency session of the UN Security Council.

    Alexander Lukashenko, dubbed Europe's last dictator, shared Russia's position and said he was well aware of all the issues in the Kosovo problem, including the military factors, adding that the battle was already lost.

    "We lost our influence there long ago. We... betrayed our fraternal Slavic nation, we should have prevented it back then, there would not have been any question of independence today," Lukashenko said in an interview with RIA Novosti and the Russia Today TV channel.

    He urged those opponents of independence to recognize that it was no longer possible to influence the situation surrounding Kosovo and Serbia.

    "The process is coming to an end... We should have protected Yugoslavia back then," the Belarusian leader said.

    UN resolution 1244 gave the organization the authority to administer Kosovo, which has been a UN protectorate since the NATO bombing of the former Yugoslavia ended a conflict between Albanian and Serb forces in 1999.

    Lukashenko will come to Moscow on Thursday for a two-day informal CIS summit, the last for outgoing Russian President Vladimir Putin. Russia will hold presidential elections on March 2.

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