Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 116

The parameters of a possible Russian-U.S. agreement over Kosovo remain far from clear, however. Washington to date has reportedly proposed scenarios similar to that which was worked out for Russian forces serving in the Bosnian Stabilization Force. One calls for Russian troops to have their own “zone of responsibility” in Kosovo, which would in fact be a part of one of the five sectors–British, French, German, Italian or American–now being established. Another apparently involves the creation of an additional sector in which Russian troops might serve under the command of a non-NATO country. Finland, which played a key role in the Kosovo peace negotiations, has been mentioned as one possibility (Washington Post, June 15).

Russian political and military officials, however, appeared yesterday to rule out those options. Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said that Moscow has objections to the “Bosnian variant,” while unnamed Defense Ministry officials suggested that the ministry has not even examined the option of subordinating Russian troops to a Finnish general (Russian agencies, June 15). More broadly, Russia has repeatedly portrayed itself as a major power–one which played a key part in brokering the peace deal–and as a country therefore entitled to a major peacekeeping role. Russian officials have suggested that Moscow should get a sector of its own. Their talk of dispatching up to 10,000 Russian troops to Kosovo also suggests that Moscow is thinking big. Britain is to have the largest contingent, numbering 12,000 troops. The Germans are second with 8,500.

The secretary of the Russian Security Council, meanwhile, said yesterday that the Russian-NATO disagreement over command of the peacekeeping forces could be resolved by “including Russian representatives in the command structures” of the Kosovo security force. Vladimir Putin, who also heads Russia’s Federal Security Service, described a process by which command decisions would apparently be a matter of some discussion. He added that Russia would have the option of disobeying orders which it did not believe to be in its interests (UPI, Russian agencies, June 15). That is not likely to be an acceptable option for NATO.