Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 83

Russia yesterday found itself at the center of a frenzied wave of diplomatic activity aimed at finding a peaceful resolution to the crisis in Kosovo. A day after U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott held talks in Moscow with the special Russian envoy for Kosovo, former Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, and with Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, several more Western visitors arrived in Moscow yesterday for similar consultations. They were headed by Greek Foreign Minister Georgios Papandreou and German Defense Minister Rudolf Scharping. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan also arrived in the Russian capital for high-level talks today.

Indeed, yesterday’s activities in Moscow were only a prelude to today’s schedule, when Annan, Papandreou and Canadian Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy are expected to meet with Ivanov for talks on the Kosovo crisis.

Chernomyrdin, meanwhile, began a new diplomatic mission today which will take him to Germany and Italy. After meeting in Moscow this morning with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Chernomyrdin repeated Russia’s view that the UN must play a central role in any settlement of the Kosovo crisis. Speaking at Moscow’s Vnukovo 2 airport before his departure to Bonn, Chernomyrdin said that he was bearing with him specific new proposals which had been approved by Russian President Boris Yeltsin. According to Chernomyrdin’s brief description of these proposals, they include the requirement that NATO stop bombing as a precondition to any movement on the part of the Serbs, a condition which NATO had previously rejected out of hand (Itar-Tass, AP, April 29).

Tomorrow Chernomyrdin is scheduled to travel once again to Belgrade, where he will meet with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic (Russian and Western agencies, April 28), with whom he held talks in Belgrade on April 22, on the eve of NATO’s fiftieth anniversary summit–talks which appeared to move NATO and Yugoslavia no closer to a political settlement.

There were no obvious signs after yesterday’s various consultations in Moscow suggesting that the diplomatic situation around Kosovo had changed for the better. After speaking with Chernomyrdin, however, German Defense Minister Scharping did make mention of “elements that increase the hope of a political solution slightly.” And in Berlin, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder reportedly spoke to his cabinet of a “new momentum” in diplomacy aimed at resolving the Balkans conflict. The German government, in fact, under pressure at home for an end to NATO airstrikes on Yugoslavia, has taken the lead in the latest such initiative. Germany has–among other things–invited senior officials from the G-7 countries and Russia to meet in Bonn on May 3 to discuss the crisis (AP, April 28).