I don’t have a strong opinion on whether Kosovo should or shouldn’t be independent, but there is a legitimate thing to fear from it and that’s that it may encourage separatists elsewhere into launching breakaway movements. Kosovo is majority Muslim; we might be seeing the birth of a new Islamic and Islamist state in Europe. Or we might be seeing the birth of a genuinely Muslim democracy in Europe. Time will tell.
Russia undoubtedly fears that Kosovo’s moves not only destabilize its longtime ethnic allies in Serbia, but that it may also renew separatist movements around the Caucasus, in Dagestan and Chechnya particularly. The Russians have fought two brutal wars in Chechnya, both of which started out as more or less conventional separatist movements but morphed into true jihadist movements. The jihadists in Chechnya have turned up as fighters as far away as Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Palestinian territories. Chechnya’s wars have influenced the global spread and ambitions of al Qaeda. The Chechen wars have largely died down in the past couple of years, but Kosovo’s independence, if it succeeds and turns in a jihadist direction, may encourage what’s left of the Chechen jihad to renew its fight. There isn’t much left of that jihad; most of its former leaders are dead and the rest have chosen to side with Russia. But that latter can change, and it’s always possible to recruit new jihadists to a fight. That’s a fight that Russia ought to win and the free world needs Russia to win, if it happens. Whatever we might justifiably think of and even fear from Putin and a resurgent Russia, the world doesn’t need a jihadist republic with caliphate ambitions anywhere, anytime, in European Kosovo or in the Caucasus. If Russia stands in the way of that happening, then Russia is in the right.
That’s not to say that Kosovo will become an Islamist state. It’s too early to say.
So where I come down on Kosovo’s independence is to hope for the best but be aware that it’s likely to encourage some of the world’s worst actors and jihadist revolutionaries to get on with their own separatist schemes.