Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 104

Ivanov’s remarks, it may be worth noting, came amid suggestions that Russian officials participating in the Kosovo peace efforts may themselves not all be on the same page. Clinton administration officials have intimated in recent days that there may be tensions in the new Russian government on the issue of Kosovo. They suggest that both Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin and Ivanov are unhappy with the high-profile diplomatic role being played by Chernomyrdin (New York Times, May 26).

The former prime minister, who was appointed to the Balkans envoy post by President Boris Yeltsin prior to the new government’s installation, has in general taken a more measured line toward the West over Kosovo than have Ivanov and others in the Russian government. Those unhappy with the appointment of Chernomyrdin–and those who back a harder line toward the West over Kosovo–may therefore not be entirely displeased by Chernomyrdin’s lack of success thus far.

Chernomyrdin’s chances for brokering a peace deal, moreover, are apparently further complicated by what some in Moscow have suggested is Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic’s dismissive attitude toward the Russian envoy. Milosevic’s reported coolness toward Chernomyrdin is said to be due to what Belgrade perceives as Chernomyrdin’s willingness to act simply as a “postman” for NATO’s demands on Yugoslavia (Reuters, May 27; International Herald Tribune, May 27).

Chernomyrdin has been accused of much the same thing at home. He sought to dispel that image in a May 27 op-ed which appeared in the “Washington Post.” Chernomyrdin asserted pointedly in that piece that Moscow, in fact, strongly opposes many of NATO’s goals in the Balkans. He also said that he would recommend Russia’s withdrawal from the Kosovo negotiations–and a further curtailment of relations with the West–if NATO does not move quickly to halt its bombing campaign against Belgrade (Washington Post, May 27; see also the Monitor, May 27).