In a bit of political showboating, Yeltsin yesterday blasted the Kosovo Liberation Army for threats it has leveled against the Russian peacekeepers. His remarks came as the Russian Defense Ministry accused NATO of failing to move energetically to disarm Kosovo Albanian rebels. A spokesman for the ministry warned that Moscow would raise the issue before the UN Security Council if NATO failed to act more effectively (Itar-Tass, June 14). A senior KLA guerrilla leader yesterday said that the Russian military contingent ensconced at the Pristina airport was unwelcome in Kosovo and demanded that they leave. He also said that the KLA “will not guarantee their security” (AP, June 14).
Finally, in another indication of tensions in Moscow over policy toward Kosovo, unnamed Russian Defense Ministry sources yesterday reportedly criticized the country’s diplomats for failing to secure an air corridor which would allow Russia to deploy additional troops in Kosovo. The Defense Ministry sources pointed especially to Hungary and Bulgaria, which have denied Moscow the right to send aircraft over their territories en route to Kosovo. They called on the Foreign Ministry “to protect Russia’s interests” and to end Moscow’s diplomatic “isolation” on this issue (Russian agencies, June 14).
Russian sources quoted Bulgaria’s foreign minister as saying yesterday that Sofia would open its airspace to Russian aircraft only after NATO and Moscow reach an agreement on the terms of Russia’s participation in the international peacekeeping force (Itar-Tass, June 14). Romania, meanwhile, has reportedly also turned down a Russian request for overflights en route to Kosovo. Romanian President Emil Constantinescu said that Bucharest would grant permission only if authorization is granted by the UN Security Council and NATO–and by the Romanian parliament (Xinhua, June 14).
KREMLIN-BACKED BLOC TO NEUTRALIZE LUZKHOV.