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|Watch the video of Sergeyev and Cohen signing the agreement
|Russia says it wants to send troops to Kosovo, but when CNN's Steve Harrigan pays a visit to a base outside Moscow, the militia doesn't even have gasoline (June 18)
Russian troops under KFOR's direction but Russia's control
June 18, 1999
Web posted at: 6:56 p.m. EDT (2256 GMT)
HELSINKI, Finland (CNN) -- Negotiators from Russia and the United States reached agreement Friday on a plan to give Russia a role in the Kosovo peacekeeping mission.
Under the terms of the deal, which still must be approved by NATO, between 3,000 and 7,000 Russian troops would operate as part of the NATO peacekeeping force, known as KFOR. They would be stationed in the American, German and French sectors of Kosovo.
"Russian troops will serve within KFOR's unified command structure and under the commanders of the sectors in which they serve," said U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen.
However, he said, "Russian forces will remain under Russian national command and control, and there will be a Russian representative at all levels of the NATO chain of command for KFOR."
Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev emphasized that at all times, Russian troops would remain under "complete political and military control of the Russian side."
Also, the airport in Pristina, the provincial capital of Kosovo, would be open to all countries participating in KFOR. A small contingent of Russian troops had seized the airport on June 12 and had refused to let troops from NATO countries into the facility.
The deal came on the third day of negotiations in Finland's capital between top officials from both countries. Cohen and Sergeyev began their talks Wednesday, while Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright joined them Thursday.
Both sides hailed the agreement as a breakthrough in U.S.-Russian relations, which have been strained in recent months because of NATO's airstrikes on Yugoslavia.
"I'm convinced that if we continue to solve in this manner the most complicated questions, then the Russian-American relationship, as well as the cause of peace as a whole, will benefit," said Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov.
"Russia has a major contribution to make to stability in the Balkans. Russia shares our concern that conflict not engulf the region again, and Russia is a key partner in efforts to build a secure and prosperous Europe," Albright said.
During the talks, Russia had insisted that it could not accept a situation where its troops would be under direct NATO command, while the NATO countries had pressed for a unified, single command structure for KFOR.
The agreement splits the difference, putting the Russian troops under the direction of KFOR commanders in the three sectors but under the ultimate control of Russian commanders. During the news conference Friday where the deal was unveiled, the ministers didn't provide specifics of just how that bifurcated structure might work on the ground.
Russia participates in a peacekeeping force in Bosnia-Herzegovina that operates under a similar structure.
Russia had also wanted its own sector of Kosovo, which has been divided between five NATO powers -- the United States, France, Britain, Germany and Italy. NATO opposed a separate Russian sector on the grounds that it would effectively partition Kosovo, which the alliance considered unacceptable.
The talks were spurred on by the presence of 200 Russian troops at the Pristina airport. The Russian contingent, which had been stationed in Bosnia-Herzegovina, upstaged NATO-led peacekeepers by making a surprise entry into Kosovo last Saturday.
The troops have been holed up at the airfield, blocking NATO peacekeepers from entering the facility until the Russian role in KFOR could be determined.
Correspondents John King, Jill Dougherty and Andrea Koppel 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
Kosovo - from Albanian.com
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
Doctors without borders
U.S. Agency for International Development (Kosovo aid)
Doctors of the World
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
ReliefWeb: Home page
The Jewish Agency for Israel
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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