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Bosnia inspires compromise plan for Russian troops

Russia's end-run around NATO to occupy the Pristina airfield angered Pentagon officials, who see it as a political move

Focus on
Shootings raise tensions in Kosovo

First relief convoy reaches Pristina

U.S. tanks rumble to Pristina


June 13, 1999
Web posted at: 9:39 p.m. EDT (0139 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The United States and Russia could look to Bosnia for inspiration in trying to resolve a standoff over the role of Russian troops in Kosovo.

As presidents and generals of the two countries continue talks to iron out their differences, U.S. officials suggested Sunday that the Russians could have a "zone of responsibility" within an area controlled by NATO peacekeeping forces, similar to an arrangement in Bosnia.

U.S. President Bill Clinton and his Russian counterpart, Boris Yeltsin, after an hourlong talk by phone on Sunday, agreed on one matter -- that NATO and Russian generals should figure out how to include Russian troops in the NATO-led force, said a White House spokesman.

Clinton and Yeltsin agreed to speak by phone again on Monday, as military and diplomatic officials continue talks in Russia, Macedonia and Kosovo to resolve the conflict.

To NATO's surprise, about 200 Russian troops on Saturday arrived ahead of alliance soldiers to take control of the airport in Pristina, Yugoslavia. On Sunday, the Russian force blocked British KFOR units from the strategic airfield.

Moscow has insisted that Russian troops patrol their own sector. NATO has remained equally adamant that all troops with the Kosovo peacekeeping force, called KFOR, work under NATO command.

Despite the tension, a compromise could be emerging. Russian and U.S. officials have worked out a "framework" to enable Russian troops to participate in KFOR, according to a Clinton administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

'Zone of responsibility'

On CNN's "Late Edition," U.S. Gen. Hugh Shelton, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, suggested Sunday that Russian troops could have a "zone of responsibility" within one of the NATO-administered sectors.

U.S. officials have pointed to the example of Bosnia, where 1,300 Russian troops in the U.S. sector receive "operational directions" from a U.S. general, but have a separate chain of command through a Russian general at NATO headquarters or Moscow.

"It's worked out well in Bosnia," Defense Secretary William Cohen said on "Late Edition."

"We think it will work well here. We just have to work out the details," he added.

What about the Russian refusal to serve under NATO command? The compromise could allow the Russians to serve under a general from a non-NATO country, perhaps Finland, who would in turn report to NATO, sources told CNN.

Shelton said the Russians would likely contribute about 2,000 troops to the peacekeeping operation, which is expected to total about 50,000 troops.

KFOR will divide the Serbian province into five zones, controlled separately by British, French, Italian, German and U.S. troops.

British Defense Secretary George Robertson suggested that Russian intransigence could have financial consequences. When the G-8 group of major industrial nations meets later this week, it will discuss continued economic aid to Russia.

Military Affairs Correspondent Jamie McIntyre and Reporter Kathleen Koch contributed to this report.

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

  • Kosova Crisis Center
  • Kosova Liberation Peace Movement
  • Kosovo - from

  • 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

Resettlement Agencies Helping Kosovars in U.S.:
  • Church World Service
  • Episcopal Migration Ministries
  • Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society
  • Iowa Department of Human Services
  • International Rescue Committee
  • Immigration and Refugee Services of America
  • Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
  • United States Catholic Conference

  • World Relief
  • Doctors without borders
  • U.S. Agency for International Development (Kosovo aid)
  • Doctors of the World
  • 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
  • The Jewish Agency for Israel
  • Mercy International

  • Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty
  • Independent Yugoslav radio stations B92
  • Institute for War and Peace Reporting
  • United States Information Agency - Kosovo Crisis

  • Expanded list of related sites on Kosovo
  • 1997 view of Kosovo from space - Eurimage
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