Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 110

Belgrade’s orchestration of this weekend’s failed talks between the Yugoslav and NATO generals appears to have several aims. By delaying the start of Yugoslavia’s military withdrawal from Kosovo, Belgrade may be seeking to give its troops time to wreak additional havoc on Kosovo and its ethnic Albanian inhabitants. Some in the West have charged that the delaying tactics are also directed at providing the troops more time to get rid of evidence implicating them in ethnic cleansing and other war crimes (AP, June 7).

But, more strategically, yesterday’s delaying tactics would seem to reflect an effort by Yugoslav authorities to move discussion of the Kosovo peace agreement to the UN Security Council, where Belgrade would hope to improve upon the terms set out in the June 3 agreement. Not surprisingly, that has appeared to be Russia’s goal as well. The appearance of a Russian representative at the NATO-Yugoslav talks in Macedonia on June 6 appeared to coincide with a sudden hardening in the positions of the Yugoslav generals. At the same time, Moscow has joined Belgrade in arguing that Yugoslavia cannot be compelled to begin its military withdrawal from Kosovo until a corresponding resolution is passed by the UN Security Council. That condition, which could take weeks to fulfill, has been flatly rejected by NATO. Moscow and Belgrade, moreover, have renewed their insistence that the Kosovo settlement must start with a halt in NATO’s bombing campaign. That too is a nonstarter in Brussels, where officials have made the credible start of a Yugoslav withdrawal the condition for a halt to the air campaign (AP, Reuters, June 6-7).