Sources: U.S. suspects Russia feeding info to Belgrade
Clinton asks for $6 billion in emergency spending
April 19, 1999
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Some U.S. officials suspect Russian intelligence services are sharing at least some information about the NATO air campaign with Yugoslavia, sources tell CNN.
They concede they are not certain, but one official pointedly said: "We can't rule it out."
As a result, sources said, NATO allies are taking precautions, including stepped-up electronic jamming. U.S. officials profess not to be overly concerned, insisting the Russian capability is limited; the Russians have only one intelligence gathering ship in the Adriatic.
Meanwhile, U.S. President Bill Clinton and Russian President Boris Yeltsin, a critic of NATO's air war against Yugoslavia, shared their views, but broke no new ground during a telephone conversation Monday, sources said.
Clinton also sent word to Congress that an additional $6 billion in "emergency" spending is needed immediately to help pay for the military operation and humanitarian aid for refugees.
"There are literally lives hanging in the balance," Clinton said. "I hope that the Congress, in the spirit of bipartisanship, will pass the package right away."
The military request includes:
The Clinton administration also requested $150 million in new aid to help Albania, Macedonia and other front line states deal with the Kosovo crisis.
White House spokesman Joe Lockhart said the proposal would maintain the air campaign at "peak efficiency" through the federal government's current fiscal year, which ends on September 30.
Because the funding would be on an "emergency" basis, it would not require cutbacks, or offsets, in government spending.
Rep. Jim Saxton (R-New Jersey), a senior member of the House National Security Committee, was in Belgrade on what he called a "fact-finding" mission.
Saxton said he was meeting with Yugoslav government officials and being taken to civilian areas said to be damaged by NATO airstrikes.
He would not comment on the details of his meetings with Belgrade officials.
Army officials said 300 paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne were being deployed from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to the Albanian capital Tirana to protect the Army Apache tank-killing helicopters, 24 of which were expected to arrive Tuesday if the weather holds.
Some members of the 82nd Airborne were already in Tirana, but others were still in the process of leaving Fort Bragg, officials said. In addition, officials said, another 150 troops might be sent later.
Earlier, Clinton spoke for 45 minutes by telephone with Yeltsin.
According to U.S. officials, the Russian leader again called for an end to the NATO bombing, promising that when it stopped, he would work to achieve NATO goals.
But Clinton insisted the bombing would not stop until NATO conditions are met, including a withdrawal of Yugoslav forces from Kosovo and the unconditional return of ethnic Albanian refugees.
Clinton initiated the call, which White House officials described as a "chance to keep the dialogue going" with Moscow.
"President Yeltsin did mention his decision earlier in the day not to send additional ships to the region and reaffirmed that he will not allow Russia to be drawn into this conflict," Lockhart told reporters.
"It was a quite constructive call," he said, although U.S. sources said there were no significant breakthroughs.
Lockhart noted that Yeltsin remains opposed to the NATO campaign, but that the U.S. and Russian leaders are still in agreement on the need for Yugoslav forces to withdraw from Kosovo.
Correspondents Wolf Blitzer and John King contributed to this report.
NATO launches fresh round of raids, Serbs say
Extensive list of Kosovo-related sites
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