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Russian troops withdrew from Serbia too early

Before the 5th anniversary of the beginning of NATO aggression against Yugoslavia, massacre of Serbs took place in the area.
28 people were killed, 850 wounded, more than 3,500 evacuated. The NATO aggression was started under the excuse of stopping ethnic cleansing. However, genocide to Serbs was not stopped by NATO troops. Even Commander of NATO
peace-keepers in Southern Europe recognizes that ethnic cleansing is in progress in Kosovo.

International peace-keeping forces in Kosovo were  not ready for such developments of the situation . More than 60 peace-keepers were wounded during Albanian separatists uprising. Today international troops protect only NATO prestige and their own lives, but not the minorities of the region.

They did not really have this purpose in mind. As a participant of the negotiation on Kosovo, I realized long time ago that the NATO and the forces behind it were looking any excuse to interfere in Yugoslavia s domestic affairs, establish pro-NATO government, disintegrate the country and oppress Serbs.

Kosovo radicals were acting as NATO allies, the alliance provided them with weapons and training, encouraging their activity on disintegrating the country.

In December 1998 Russian Army General Staff gave NATO Commander general Wesley Clarke detailed information on the weapons the Albanian radicals had, the ways of their supplying with weapons, the location of the combatant bases and so on.
Joint actions could stop this dangerous process. However, NATO did nothing to stabilize the situation. Moreover, in January 1999 general Clarke complained that NATO intelligence was weak and could not confirm the information of
Russians.

The drama was Russia s failure to support Serbia. Russia wanted to be good for everybody, it did not want conflicts with NATO (after Russia-NATO Act was signed in 1997, but could not support NATO either.

Russian mass media depicted Slobodan Milosevic as the murderer of innocent civilians in Kosovo. Only after NATO started bombing Yugoslavia, the Kremlin urged by Russian society, expressed its protest against the aggression. But it
did not provide the victim of the aggression with the assistance as UN Chapter requires. Russia did not even request the UN to have urgent meeting of the Security Council.

Serbs were fighting with courage, while NATO was exhausted. The main anti-Serbian tool was used   special envoy of Russian President Mr. Chernomyrdin. He was appointed on this post under the US administration request.

Victor Chernomyrdin ignored the requests of Russian President, Foreign and Defense Ministries and supported NATO by signing the ultimatum prepared by American delegation.
Mr. Chernomyrdin arrived in Belgrad and submitted this ultimatum to Yugoslavian authorities. Even President Yeltsin was indignant with his envoy s conduct and sent the telegram in Belgrad to force him to follow President s orders. No result, and Serbs being friendly to Russia, had to accept the ultimatum.

The advance of Russian paratroopers and deploying them in strategic aerodrome Slatina inspired Serbs again. Russian soldiers did not allow to intimidate civilians and destroy Orthodox churches in Kosovo.

Ноwever, this support did not last long either. Russian Ministry of Defense considered the mission completed and withdrew the troops from Kosovo. This was the second case of letting Serbs down.

This was the result of Russia's failure to introduce coherent foreign policy. Too many Russian officials want to be good for Washington and Brussels in the first place.

Russia is encircled by NATO bases. Ukraine, Georgia and Azerbaijan allowed NATO troops on their territory. Belarus has been under pressure both from the East and the West, and can join NATO in future. NATO aircrafts patrol the air space of the Baltic countries   former Soviet republics. Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Ministry and Army General Staff continue saying that there is no threat from the West for Russia.

UN resolution # 1144 authorizes and urges Russia to interfere in the Kosovo events. The situation in the region would be absolutely different if Moscow made a statement of its readiness to deploy Russian troops in Kosovo. Russia could
have offered Serbian forces to participate, and this would protect Serbian minority in the region. The Germans and French would act differently under these circumstances as well.

The dеvelopments in Kosovo undermine Europe. European politicians realize that the USA is creating a criminal enclave in the Balkans, and it will shake Europe for many years. This is revenge to Europe for growing anti-Americanism and resistance to the war in Iraq. Were Moscow more confident, it could have a support of some European countries, especially Germany and France.

Russia s lack of firmness contributes neglecting international law and driving Serbs out of Kosovo and Metokhia. The offer of some Duma deputies to accommodate Serbs in Russia sounds cynical. Russia cannot solve the problem of millions of
homeless and poor, millions of Russians are living all over the world. Who of our Slavic brothers will go the country which betrayed them?

Serbs were the last pro-Russian nation in the Balkans. Today Russia is risking to lost the remains of their support.

Leonid Ivashov