Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 174

Western diplomats suggested yesterday that Russia might go along with a draft UN resolution which could ultimately open the way for NATO military action in Yugoslavia. The news came as both European and U.S. leaders, in New York for the UN General Assembly, warned Yugoslav authorities against further violence in the separatist province of Kosovo. German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel and his Austrian counterpart Wolfgang Schussel each condemned Belgrade’s bloody crackdown there. In a speech before the General Assembly, Kinkel said that “most of the responsibility” for the violence in Kosovo “lies with Belgrade, with President [Slobodan] Milosevic.” He warned Milosevic that the “international community will react with military force if necessary” (AP, September 22).

Yesterday’s activities come as the UN Security Council prepares to consider–possibly as early as today–a British- and French-sponsored resolution that would demand a cease-fire in Kosovo and threaten additional measures if the violence there does not stop. The resolution does not directly authorize military intervention by NATO, but would move the Western alliance closer to it. Efforts to ensure Security Council approval of the resolution come amid reports that the Clinton administration has asked the North Atlantic Council to begin gathering commitments from NATO countries to contribute troops to a possible multinational force for action in Yugoslavia (AP, September 22).

Russia has heretofore blamed the Kosovo Albanians for the continuing violence in Kosovo and has led opposition on the Security Council to possible NATO military action in Yugoslavia. Newly named Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov appeared to restate that position in his own address to the General Assembly yesterday (see below).. Ivanov called for a “diplomatic solution” to the crisis in Kosovo, and warned that the use of force “could lead to a big war with unpredictable consequences.”

Russia’s ambassador to NATO, Sergei Lavrov, indicated yesterday, however, that Moscow might be prepared to go along with the British- and French-sponsored resolution–in part, presumably, because it does not approve any immediate military action in the Balkans. Western officials suggested, moreover, that the Russians are in fact angry over Milosevic’s failure to fulfill promises made to President Boris Yeltsin in Moscow earlier this year. “Milosevic will see that the Russian position has changed,” German Foreign Minister Kinkel said yesterday (AP, Itar-Tass, September 22).