Andrey Sushentsov, a programme director at the Valdai Club – whose members meet Russian officials each autumn – told Sputnik news agency that Russia should not be expected to endanger relations with old allies like Serbia in order to improve its relationship with the US.

Sushentsov was reflecting on media reports that Moscow could recognise Kosovo’s independence as part of a wider rapprochement with Washington under Donald Trump.

“I think there are no grounds for opening a discussion on the recognition of Kosovo. The issue of Kosovo in the Balkans cannot be brought into connection with Russia-US relations,” Sushentsov told Sputnik on January 24.

“It is not to be expected that Russia and the US would trade recognitions of territories; at least Russia is not using those kind of instruments,” Sushentsov said.

Mary Dejevsky, a British expert and commentator on Russia, floated the prospect of Russia recognising Kosovo’s independence in the UK Catholic Tablet weekly, as part of a much wider agreement between Washington and Moscow, once Trump takes over as US President.

“Only if the situation in the Balkans suddenly turns for the worse … endangering national and regional stability, would the Kosovo question be opened between the Kremlin and Washington. But at the moment the factors that could change Kremlin’s position on the territorial integrity of Serbia do not exist,” Sushentsov said.

Igor Pshenichnikov, from the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, also told Sputnik that Russia would not betray the interests of its biggest ally in the Balkans, namely Serbia.

“By recognizing Kosovo, we would betray our main ally in the Balkans, and that would also be a signal to all those with separatists tendencies in Serbia,” he said.

“Other than that, Russian recognition of Kosovo would mean the breach of existing system of international laws, that would be immoral act and that is why Russia would never go for it,” Pshenichnikov said.

He added that any discussion on Moscow possibly recognizing Kosovo’s independence “looks like an attempt to sow discord, because the scenario of Moscow recognizing Kosovo is not possible, especially while [Russian President Vladimir] Putin is in power.”

Russia has staunchly opposed recognition of Kosovo, a former province of its close ally Serbia that broke away with Western military help in 1999 and declared full independence in 2008.

About 109 UN member states have recognised Kosovo including most Western countries, starting with the US. But Serbia, Russia, China, five EU member states [Slovakia, Romania, Greece, Cyprus and Spain] and many other countries have not.

Non-recognisers include most countries in Central and Latin America and Asia and about half of the states in Africa.