There were, of course, signs of several enduring disagreements with Moscow following yesterday’s talks in Belgrade. The text of the peace plan, for example, reportedly contains a footnote signaling that Russia and NATO must still iron out differences over the command structure for the international peacekeeping contingent. “It is understood,” the footnote reads, “that Russia’s position is that the Russian contingent will not be under NATO command and its relationship to the international presence will be governed by relevant additional documents” (Reuters, June 3).
There also appeared to be differences between Moscow and NATO over when NATO’s air campaign against Yugoslavia would be halted. Valentin Sergeev, a spokesman for Chernomyrdin, was quoted yesterday as saying that a NATO military mission would go to Belgrade “in the next few days” to discuss implementation of the peace plan, and that the bombing would stop then. “The day and the hour of the alliance generals’ arrival in Belgrade under UN auspices will be the day and the hour that the bombing ends,” Sergeev said (Reuters, Russian agencies, June 3). NATO did not confirm this.
Despite those differences, however, it seemed from initial reports yesterday that Moscow may have retreated on several key points during the talks among Chernomyrdin, Ahtisaari and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott which took place in Bonn on June 1-2. That possibility was suggested by Sergeev, who told reporters on June 2 that Moscow had been prepared to endorse the principles contained in a peace plan drafted by Russia and the Group of Seven countries last month. He suggested that those principles, which were a weak version of NATO’s key demands, had been approved by President Boris Yeltsin, Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin and Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov. But, according to Sergeev, the U.S. side (presumably in the person of Talbott) had come to the talks in Bonn with a stricter agenda and pursued a harder line on several key points (Itar-Tass, June 2).
REPORTS OF RUMBLINGS IN RUSSIAN NEGOTIATING TEAM.