Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 115

Yesterday’s Moscow meeting of the five-power Contact Group on Moscow collided head on with Russia’s familiar objections to the Western countries’ peace plan. Russia again insisted on sharing operational command of the planned peacekeeping operation, demanding that it be placed under UN political authority. Moscow is also adamant that economic sanctions against rump Yugoslavia be suspended as soon as peace negotiations begin. Western participants defended the principle of a single chain of command under NATO for all peacekeeping troops, and would lift the sanctions only after a peace agreement is signed. Members of the US delegation said off the record that the US plans to invite Slobodan Milosevic, Franjo Tudjman, and Alija Izetbegovic–presidents of Serbia, Croatia, and Bosnia, respectively–for direct talks set to begin on October 31 in the United States. (1)

Although initially billed as a relatively low-level meeting of foreign ministries’ political directors and hence unable to produce decisions, the meeting in fact was attended by the US Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, Assistant Secretary of State and Bosnia mediator Richard Holbrooke, Assistant Secretary of Defense Walter Slocombe, European Union plenipotentiary Karl Bildt, and Russian First Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov who is in charge of Russia’s Bosnia policy. Russian obstinacy, not inadequate representation, created the impasse.

More Luminaries Quit "Russia’s Choice."