Serbia disputed the claim – even as Kosovo became a de facto independent state after Serb forces were driven out by NATO following a failed mass “ethnic cleansing” campaign by Belgrade in 1999. That campaign is seen as part of a attempt by Serb strongman Slobodan Milosevic to create a “Greater Serbia” by killing and forced relocation of non-Serbs -- that itself began with speeches by Mr. Milosevic in Kosovo in 1988.
On Wednesday, US Vice President Joseph Biden met with Kosovo President Hashim Thaci to affirm continued US support of Kosovo regardless of the outcome of the court ruling – continuing a US policy of rebuilding the Balkans. The US State Department has steadily said it backs Kosovo independence as an exceptional case, and not a precedent.
Some 69 nations recognize Kosovo, now under international protection, which is short of the 100 required for UN membership. China, Russia, and European states like Greece, Spain, and Italy have not recognized Kosovo's independence, citing separatists within their own borders.