Russia’s Foreign Ministry has denounced the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) for seizing eight Yugoslav soldiers on January 8. A January 10 ministry statement demanded that Kosovo Albanian guerrillas “immediately and unconditionally” release all hostages. The statement also described the seizure of the hostages as an “outrageous act of terror,” a “challenge to the international community [and] a direct violation of obligations contained in UN Security Council resolutions.” It expressed Moscow’s concern over “incessant provocation by Albanian guerrillas.” The Russian statement simultaneously praised Yugoslav authorities and urged them to continue to “show a maximum of restraint in this difficult situation” (Russian agencies, January 10).
Moscow’s reaction to the latest crisis in Yugoslavia follows its usual pattern of describing Kosovo Albanian guerrillas as terrorists and blaming them for ongoing tensions in the troubled province. Russian diplomats, meanwhile, were said to be involved along with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and NATO in intense international efforts aimed at winning release of the hostages. The guerrillas are seeking the release of an unspecified number of ethnic Albanians detained in Yugoslav prisons in return for the release of the soldiers. Yugoslav authorities have threatened to resume an offensive against KLA strongholds if the hostages are not released (Reuters, January 11). A Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman said yesterday that the Kosovo crisis would figure prominently in upcoming talks between Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and his counterparts from France, the United States, Poland, Cuba, Sweden, Israel and South Korea (Russian agencies, January 11).
RUSSIA, JAPAN HOPE TO GET RELATIONS BACK ON TRACK.