MOSCOW Russia may veto a draft U.N. Security Council resolution providing for effective independence for Kosovo, Russia's ambassador to the United Nations said on Saturday.
"Such a scenario is becoming more and more likely," Vitaly Churkin told the Russian television channel Vesti 24.
Churkin was responding to a question about whether Russia would use its right as a permanent Security Council member to veto the resolution.
"We are trying to find a diplomatic solution but we cannot find such a solution simply accepting positions of countries we have deep disagreements with," Churkin said.
The draft resolution, circulated earlier by the United States and European Union countries, endorses a plan drawn up by U.N. envoy Martti Ahtisaari.
Under the plan, the Serbian province, which has been under U.N. administration for almost eight years, would be independent under European Union supervision.
Churkin accused his Western counterparts of enforcing artificial deadlines for resolving sensitive issues and applying double standards, an allegation often used by Moscow in response to international criticism of its policies.
"We often tell our Western colleagues half-jokingly: "Why don't we apply the same timeframe to the Middle East crisis and try to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict within, say, three months," Churkin said.
Russia, flush with oil revenues, is flexing its muscles on the international scene and is becoming an increasingly vocal critic of the West. Russia said earlier on Saturday it could not accept parts of the resolution.
"Of course, there will be further discussions with the authors of this document but it is clear that the draft resolution contains provisions which cannot be accepted by us," Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin said in remarks published on the ministry's official Web site www.mid.ru.
Kamynin's statement did not say which parts of the resolution Moscow objected to or make any mention of a veto.
Diplomats expected talks between Security Council diplomats to start next week in an attempt to agree a text but Churkin said Russian diplomats would not touch the draft until next week's visit of U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to Moscow was over.
"Everyone is waiting for the talks' outcome in order to review the situation and see what can be done in the Security Council," Churkin said in an interview with Vesti 24.
Rice is due to arrive in Moscow on Monday. Churkin said Russia did not want to maintain the status quo in Kosovo and was prepared to work on a solution that would involve the European Union.
"We admit there can be a solution that would not only push both sides to further negotiations but would also replace the United Nations in Kosovo with the European Union's presence," Churkin said.
Western nations say it is time to end the lengthy stalemate on the breakaway province after talks between Serbs and Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority on its status led nowhere. Belgrade's ally Russia says negotiations should continue.
"As we had stated before, the real solution of the Kosovo problem may not be enforced but should be based on the will of both sides -- Serbs and Kosovo Albanians," Kamynin said.