Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 112

If all goes smoothly,” the diplomats say, referring to last night’s NATO-Yugoslav accord and draft resolution. But a number of potential problems lie on the immediate horizon. Some are related to the very ambiguity of the UN Security Council resolution. Painstakingly crafted to satisfy the divergent needs and interests of both Russia and the leading NATO member states, the resolution is deliberately vague on several key points. Two of these involve the related issues of command and control over the international security force, and the manner in which Russian and NATO peacekeepers will interact in Kosovo. In addition, China continued even yesterday to have some reservations about the text of the draft resolution, and China’s UN ambassador suggested that Beijing would not vote to approve it. Western officials spoke yesterday of making some small, last-minute amendments to the resolution text in order to address the Chinese concerns. But they seemed mostly to hope that Beijing would either relax its opposition, or that it would choose to abstain–rather than to exercise its veto–when the resolution comes to a vote.

Other, somewhat longer term difficulties also seem to loom. One is a given: that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic will maneuver endlessly and ruthlessly both to circumvent or to change the terms of the peace agreement, and to undermine the will and unity of those countries seeking to enforce it. Another potentially serious difficulty involves Moscow’s ambiguous embrace of the peace settlement and the likelihood that Russian officials too will seek to exploit its imprecision. Opposition to the settlement continues to run high in Russia, despite the fact that the Kremlin’s special envoy, Viktor Chernomyrdin, played a key role in drafting it. Chernomyrdin has been much criticized for the alleged “concessions” he made during the peace negotiations, and a host of leading Russian officials have either criticized the former prime minister outright, or distanced themselves in one way or another from the settlement agreement he helped produce.