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Russians say they're in Kosovo for the long haul
Russian soldiers near Banja in the Yugoslav province of Kosovo
July 21, 1999
Web posted at: 1:59 p.m. EDT (1759 GMT)
MOSCOW -- A top Russian official said Wednesday that Russia would maintain its peacekeeping forces in Kosovo as long as necessary, despite the financial strain on its cash-strapped military budget.
"Any peacemaking operation has a long-term character," said Lt. Gen. Nikolai Staskov, head of the country's Airborne Forces Staff, told the news agency ITAR-Tass.
The peacekeeping mission is expected to cost about $60 million per year. Russia will keep a force of 3,600 troops in the Serbian province, and about a third of those already have been deployed.
Many ethnic Albanians in Kosovo are afraid of the Russians because of their sympathies with the Serbs, who forced them from their homes in a brutal campaign of "ethnic cleansing." But Staskov said the local population would see "that we have come to them in peace, (and then) the conflicting parties will feel respect toward us."
Despite its sympathies, Russia provided no military or economic aid to Yugoslavia during NATO's 11-week long bombing campaign, which forced Yugoslav troops out of Kosovo. Once Yugoslav troops left the region, the ethnic Albanians who fled Kosovo began to flood back to their homes.
About 420,000 refugees have left Albania, leaving only about 20,000 in the neighboring country, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees and NATO said Wednesday: More refugees are returning to Kosovo from Macedonia and Montenegro.
Reuters 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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