Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin stormed out of a UN Security Council meeting Monday following what he described as a "sermon" by UN special representative Joachim Rucker advocating "outright independence" for Kosovo.
Churkin clarified later that his leaving the consultations was not a walk-out because his aide was still attending the closed session on the status of the Serbian province.
"There was a strong Russian statement, you can report that," Churkin told reporters after the adjourning of the private meeting of the Security Council.
"I was very upset by what I heard from Mr. Rucker today," Churkin told reporters after leaving in the middle of consultations. "His remarks have been extremely one-sided and unhelpful."
Churkin accused Rucker of deviating from his mandate by " preaching for independence instead of discussing implementation of Resolution 1244," which was adopted by the UN Security Council on June 10, 1999.
Rucker, for his part, defended his statements during the closed session, saying he was only "describing the perceptions on the ground."
The exchange Monday followed Russia's call a day earlier for replacing UN special envoy for Kosovo Martti Ahtisaari.
"If there is no agreement, and so far as we understand there isn't, that means it is necessary to continue talks and to appoint a new special representative," the Interfax news agency quoted Russian Security Council chief Igor Ivanov as saying on Sunday.
Ahtisaari's plan, which opens way for ultimate independence of Kosovo, is welcomed in the West. But Russia has voiced concern that such a settlement might have adverse effects on many other breakaway regions in Europe.
Churkin on Monday sidestepped questions about replacing Ahtisaari, but said the main thing is to continue negotiations with "those personalities who would be pushing for more progress in the negotiations."
"We do not see how the Security Council can support a solution which would impose things in a situation where Resolution 1244 has not been implemented because the standards have not been up to the level, where the Council is supposed to sever part of a country from a sovereign country," Churkin said.
"There must be a serious effort for negotiation and the kind of preaching of an inevitability and absolute need for immediate solution on the status ... are unhelpful," he said.
At Monday's regular press briefing, UN Secrtary-General Ban Ki- moon's spokeswoman, Michele Montas, said Ban has full confidence in Ahtisaari. "This process has to go on and Mr. Ahtisaari is in charge."
In Washington, the United States also expressed support for Ahtisaari.
"We think Mr. Ahtisaari is doing a good job with a very, very tough issue," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said. "It is time to bring some possible solution to the issue of Kosovo."
Sanda Raskovic-Ivic, president of Serbia's Coordination Center for Kosovo and Metohija, and Kosovo President Fatmir Sejdiu were presented at Monday's session.
Rucker, the UN special representative, said the Serbian delegation presented their view that was "not totally compatible with ... the situation of the Kosovar Serbs in Kosovo."
"We do have the impression that isolated incidents that do happen are misrepresented," Rucker said.
Dragana Ivanovic, press secretary at the Serbian mission to the United Nations, said there were 52 "ethnically motivated attacks on Serbs and members of non-Albanian communities" in Kosovo in the past four months alone, 22 of them targeting Serb returnees and their property.
"We are calling them threats by Albanian separatists and terrorists that are happening in Kosovo and Metohija," Ivanovic said.
"We support the initiative to continue the negotiation process and open dialogue, which will be conducted in good faith," Ivanovic said. "We think that such talks can result in a compromise in a negotiated solution in conformity with the UN Charter and equally beneficial for both Serbs and Albanians and for their future."