Russia’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement yesterday criticizing an operation by the NATO-led peacekeeping force in Bosnia that earlier in the day resulted in the arrest of two Bosnian war crimes suspects. The Foreign Ministry statement described the operation, which was carried out by Dutch troops, as a "cowboy raid," and said that it violated the mandate conferred upon the Stabilization Force (SFOR) in Bosnia. The statement also said that the arrest could endanger the broader peace process in Bosnia. (Itar-Tass, December 18)
Russia, which has favored the Serbian side in the Bosnian conflict, has repeatedly indicated its opposition to SFOR operations aimed at the arrest of suspected war criminals. That same position was implied anew by Russian foreign minister Yevgeny Primakov during his talks with NATO foreign ministers in Brussels on December 17. Primakov indicated that Russia would continue its participation in any follow-on force to SFOR, but that it would strictly observe the mandate imposed upon the peacekeeping forces. Russia has a brigade of 1,500 troops in the U.S. sector of northeastern Bosnia.