Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 87

Viktor Chernomyrdin’s talks in New York with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan appeared to produce no more significant breakthroughs than the talks in Washington did. A spokesman for Annan said that the two men had “identified a number of areas on which further consultations with countries concerned would be necessary.” They also agreed that two new special UN envoys for Kosovo, to be appointed by Annan, “would work closely with the Russian Federation in the attempt to move the political process forward.” But there was no evidence that Chernomyrdin had won from Annan a commitment to significantly increase the UN’s role in efforts to resolve the Kosovo crisis. Moscow would very much like to see the UN supplant NATO as the primary international body adjudicating and enforcing a settlement in Kosovo. Remarks by Annan after his talks with Chernomyrdin also suggest that the UN secretary general supports Western calls for the deployment of a robust military force in Kosovo. Moscow has, in large part, backed Belgrade’s call for a lightly armed peacekeeping contingent which would operate under UN control (UPI, AP, May 4).

One indication that Chernomyrdin’s mission may not have been as productive as he had hoped was the former prime minister’s announcement yesterday that he would fly from the United States back to Moscow. Upon Chernomyrdin’s arrival in Washington there had been reports that he might proceed from the United States back to Belgrade for a third round of talks with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. The fact that Chernomyrdin chose not to travel directly to the Yugoslav capital may suggest that he had not won the concessions from the West which would have made such a trip meaningful at this point. Chernomyrdin did say that he might return to Belgrade later (UPI, Xinhua, May 4).