| MILITARY PLAN:|
|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)
Yugoslav forces withdraw as fears surface over KLA role
June 19, 1999
Web posted at: 6:35 a.m. EDT (1035 GMT)
HELSINKI, Finland (CNN) -- More than 3,000 Russian troops will serve in sectors of Kosovo run by the United States, Germany and France, under an agreement which resolves an impasse over Russia's role in the Kosovo peacekeeping mission.
In a major change of position, Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev dropped Russia's demand that it be given a sector of its own to patrol in the Yugoslav province.
The new command structure would be similar to that in Bosnia, where Russian peacekeepers work alongside a NATO-led force.
On Saturday, NATO officials predicted quick NATO approval for the deal, which calls for between 3,000 and 7,000 Russian troops to 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."
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 troops are positioned at the airfield, blocking NATO peacekeepers from entering the facility until the Russian role in KFOR is determined.
Russia wanted own sector
Houses reportedly were torched by KLA members in Novosela, Yugoslavia
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.
Russia had 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.
In Yugoslavia, NATO agreed to put more military police on Kosovo streets, because of concerned about reports of revenge attacks by ethnic Albanian rebels.
CNN's Richard Blystone reported that many Serbs continue to flee Kosovo as the ethnic Albanians stream in. NATO is trying to encourage the Serbs to remain in Kosovo.
NATO peacekeepers arrested 25 Kosovo Liberation Army rebels after finding mistreated prisoners at a police station.
Serbs also reported attacks across the province by KLA rebels.
Yugoslav forces meet NATO deadline
Long convoys of Serbs pour out of Kosovo
Yugoslav forces met a NATO deadline to withdraw from central Kosovo late Friday, as thousands of international peacekeepers entering the province sought to clamp down on revenge attacks by ethnic Albanian rebels.
A NATO spokesman said Yugoslav troops and Serbian police had pulled out of the central portion of Kosovo by midnight Friday (2200 Thursday, GMT), complying with the second of three critical deadlines set by the alliance for Yugoslav forces to leave. Belgrade has until midnight Sunday (2200 Saturday, GMT) to withdraw all of its estimated 40,000 troops from the province.
Lt. Cmdr. Louis Garneaux said early Saturday that NATO troops were quickly moving in on the heels of the retreating Yugoslav forces "to prevent a security vacuum from developing."
More than 15,000 peacekeepers have moved into Kosovo in the past six days, forming the backbone of the NATO-led Kosovo implementation force, or KFOR. The force has been able to assert its authority faster than expected, officials said.
British peacekeepers confronted Yugoslav troops in Podujevo when the Yugoslavs tried to move down a main road in the town, where ethnic Albanian residents greeted the British happily. The French consolidated their hold on Mitrovica, and Italian peacekeepers set up their headquarters in Pec.
"As of now, KFOR is in every major town in Kosovo," said Lt. Col. Robin Clifford, a KFOR spokesman.
KFOR frees captives of KLA
This man freed by NATO soldiers said he had been tortured by KLA members in Prizren
But even with Yugoslav forces on their way out, the road to full control remained bumpy. KFOR must not only monitor the Yugoslav withdrawal, it must head off any reprisals by the ethnic Albanians against the minority Serb population and others as hundreds of thousands of refugees return to Yugoslavia.
On Friday, German KFOR troops swooped into a former police station in Prizren that had been taken over by the ethnic Albanian Kosovo Liberation Army, rescuing 15 prisoners who had apparently been beaten by their captors.
An elderly man was found dead, chained to a chair.
One man freed by the Germans showed lash wounds on his back, while another man's face and shirt was covered with blood. They told CNN's Mike Boettcher that they had been held there for three days.
NATO troops confiscated weapons, many of them from returning KLA rebels
Most of the prisoners were Albanian-speaking men, but at least one was a Serb and another said he was a gypsy, a German Army spokesman said. The KLA has accused gypsies of siding with Yugoslavia.
"The KLA said that I was a spy and had betrayed my people," said Skender Gashi, whose face was badly bruised.
The KLA claims the group was "part of a criminal element."
The German troops disarmed 25 KLA members inside the station and promptly arrested them. KFOR has said that all KLA members must put away their weapons by midnight Friday and stop wearing their uniforms within two days.
Other reports of abuse and violence multiplied: A Serb couple found dead on their home's doorstep, a 16-year-old Serb killed in a country road ambush.
Orthodox bishop condemns Milosevic
Up to 50,000 Serb civilians have already left Kosovo and the rest are increasingly fearful as Serb troops pull out to comply with last week's peace deal.
The moral authority of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Bishop Radosalovic Artemije, who himself fled Prizren for safety on Wednesday, urged the KLA and returning refugees not to exact revenge on innocent civilians.
Ethnic Albanians cheered NATO troops
"We understand the pain of the Albanian people and myself and my colleagues have spoken about the way the (Yugoslav President Slobodan) Milosevic regime treated the Albanian people. But we also say revenge crimes by Albanians won't do anyone any good in this crisis," he said.
Artemije condemned the increasing number of atrocities uncovered in the shattered province, placing the blame on Milosevic and his policies.
"We tell everyone we must define the difference between the Serbian people and the regime in Serbia. We feel no one in the world cares about making that distinction," Artemije told CNN's Jim Clancy.
"Because of the war in Croatia and Bosnia, all the Serbian people are punished with sanctions. Because of the problem in Kosovo, again the people of Serbia are punished with bombing. And it is not the people, but one man and his regime, that are responsible," he said.
Correspondents John King, Andrea Koppel, Richard Blystone, Mike Boettcher and Jim Clancy contributed to this report.
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June 17, 1999
U.S., Russia extend talks on Russian role in KFOR
June 17, 1999
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 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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