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US

Clinton warns Milosevic against partial compliance

graphic


 ALSO

NATO says strikes cause pain to Serb forces in Kosovo
April 5, 1999
NATO rushing 31 aid flights to help Kosovo refugees
April 5, 1999
Cohen: NATO will remain airborne only
April 5, 1999
Pressure grows for deploying U.S. ground troops
April 5, 1999
NATO hits Yugoslav air force headquarters
April 5, 1999

 

New deployment raises question of ground forces

April 5, 1999
Web posted at: 10:22 p.m. EDT (0222 GMT)


In this story:

New explosion in Yugoslavia

Disagreements over ground troops

Skeptics: 'It means ground power'

RELATED STORIES, SITES icon



WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Clinton on Monday tried to head off what his advisers believe will be an effort by Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to divide the NATO alliance.

U.S. intelligence sources are picking up indications Milosevic may announce as early as this week a unilateral cease-fire in Kosovo -- and perhaps -- a partial troop withdrawal from the Serbian province.

But Clinton fired a pre-emptive warning Monday, saying those two steps alone won't be enough to stop the NATO air campaign.

"More empty promises and token half-measures won't do the job," Clinton said at an afternoon news conference. "A commitment to cease killing, in a Kosovo denied its freedom and devoid of its people, is not acceptable."

The president said Milosevic must withdraw his forces from Kosovo, allow the hundreds of thousands of ethnic Albanian refugees to return to their homes, accept an international security force in Kosovo, and move toward the Rambouillet peace accords worked out in France last month.

Clinton pledged to press on with "undiminished, unceasing and unrelenting" airstrikes against Yugoslavia if Milosevic continues to rebuff Western demands -- and to "persist until we prevail."

"We know we are up against a dictator that has shown time and again that he would rather rule over rubble than not rule at all," Clinton told reporters at the White House.

bombing
Serbian television reported more bombings in Novi Sad on Monday  

New explosions in Yugoslavia

Shortly after the president spoke Monday, a massive explosion rocked at least one oil refinery in Novi Sad -- a Yugoslav city that has come under heavy attack by NATO in recent days.

Serbian television showed a bright orange fireball lighting up the nighttime sky and flames rising high into the air around 10 p.m. local time (4 p.m. EDT).

But despite the increased hits NATO warplanes and missiles are scoring against Yugoslavia, Clinton is coming under attack at home, with some reports saying his military commanders had misgivings from the beginning about an air-only campaign.

The president dismissed the criticism Monday.

"I would far rather be standing here answering these questions," Clinton said, "than I would to be standing here having you ask me why we are permitting wholesale slaughter and ethnic cleansing and the creation of hundreds of thousands of refugees and not lifting a finger."

Clinton also said that while diplomacy was everyone's first choice, peace talks at Rambouillet, France, failed and that made the NATO air campaign the "best available option."

When the president was asked if the U.S. military was "with him," he deferred to Secretary of Defense William Cohen.

Cohen said the armed services, and especially the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had recognized the problems of a military mission in Yugoslavia, including difficult weather, tough geography and the very robust Yugoslav air defense system.

"They came to the conclusion, unanimously, that the only option available, other than sitting on the sidelines, was to pursue the air campaign, given its limitations," Cohen said.

U.S. soldiers
Clinton says U.S. troops will be used only for a peacekeeping mission  

Disagreements over ground troops

Clinton's spokesman earlier told reporters that soldiers would enter the province only as peacekeepers.

"We will not use ground troops in anything but a permissive environment," White House Press Secretary Joe Lockhart said.

Lockhart's comments followed those of Cohen, who said during an interview on CNN that the Clinton administration and NATO remained committed to a strategy of only airstrikes in Yugoslavia.

"We have started to hit many of the rail lines, the bridges, the petroleum storage and ammunition depots," Cohen said.

"Now we're starting to take the air campaign directly to the tanks, the heavy artillery, the types of gatherings of armed forces and police forces in the field," he said.

Not only is the United States unwilling to commit combat troops to ground action in the Balkans, but NATO is unlikely to consider such a move, he said.

Serb tank
Serbian tank  

"This is a NATO operation. It's not a unilateral action by the United States. The NATO countries are committed to waging an air campaign," Cohen said.

The statements from the Clinton administration officials came amid growing congressional calls for the use of ground troops in the Balkans.

Key U.S. lawmakers went on weekend talk shows to say the Kosovo conflict won't come to an end without ground troops.

Skeptics: 'It means ground power'

The decision to deploy 24 Apache helicopters and some 2,000 support personnel to NATO's Operation Allied Force also raised concerns about ground forces.

The low-flying Apaches will go after Serbian troops and tanks on the ground. They will be protected by ground-based anti-personnel missile batteries and Bradley fighting vehicles and tanks that will remain in Albania.

These are all Army weapons -- used by soldiers in Army green -- yet the Clinton administration stresses their deployment is not the beginning of a ground force for Kosovo.

Apache
Apache helicopters, like the one seen here, will fly low to combat Serbian troops and tanks on the ground in Yugoslavia  

But some military experts aren't convinced that Army helicopters are part of an air campaign.

"You asked about the 24 Apache helicopters, the 2,000 servicemen, Bradley fighting vehicles going in with them, what does it mean?" retired U.S. Army Col. William Taylor said. "It means ground power."

"Is it incremental? Yes," said Taylor, who is now with the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

In addition to the Apache helicopter support forces, NATO is planning to deploy another 6,000 to 8,000 troops in Albania -- on top of the 12,000 troops already in Macedonia. If a ground force should be needed, the beginnings of one will be in place.

Correspondents Wolf Blitzer and David Ensor contributed to this report.


RELATED STORIES:
First Kosovo refugees flown out of Macedonia
April 5, 1999
Blast rocks Yugoslav oil refinery; NATO rushes refugee aid
April 5, 1999
Yugoslav official: Captured U.S. soldiers won't face trial
April 4, 1999
NATO to get more U.S. firepower
April 4, 1999
Russian anger at NATO attacks goes deeper than 'Slavic brotherhood'
April 4, 1999

RELATED SITES:
Extensive list of Kosovo-related sites
  • Kosovo

Yugoslavia:
  • Federal Republic of Yugoslavia official site
      • Kesovo and Metohija facts
  • Serbia Ministry of Information
  • Serbia Now! News


Kosovo:
  • Kosova Crisis Center
  • Kosova Liberation Peace Movement
  • Kosovo - from Albanian.com

Military:
  • NATO official site
  • BosniaLINK - U.S. Dept. of Defense
  • U.S. Navy images from Operation Allied Force
  • U.K. Ministry of Defence - Kosovo news
  • U.K. Royal Air Force - Kosovo news
  • Jane's Defence - Kosovo Crisis

Relief:
  • World Vision
  • CARE: The Kosovo Crisis
  • InterAction
  • International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
  • International Committee of the Red Cross
  • Kosovo Humanitarian Disaster Forces Hundreds of Thousands from their Homes
  • Catholic Relief Services
  • Kosovo Relief
  • ReliefWeb: Home page


Media:
  • Independent Yugoslav radio stations B92
  • Institute for War and Peace Reporting
  • United States Information Agency - Kosovo Crisis

Other:
  • Expanded list of related sites on Kosovo
  • 1997 view of Kosovo from space - Eurimage
  • Prayers for Peace
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