Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 100

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, who did meet with Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou and UN envoy Carl Bildt on May 22, also made it clear to reporters that important differences between Russia and the West remain. He suggested that the most significant of these involve the composition and status of the international security force to be deployed in Kosovo, and the extent to which Serb police and military forces are to be withdrawn from the war-torn province. Milosevic had reportedly told Chernomyrdin during their talks in Belgrade that Yugoslavia opposes both pulling out all of its forces from Kosovo and allowing an international security force to control the province.

Ivanov also used an interview with CNN to lambaste NATO once again for its bombing campaign against Yugoslavia. The Russian foreign minister charged that the intensity of NATO’s air strikes had increased during Chernomyrdin’s mission to Belgrade. That, he said, “raises the question of who’s trying to undermine the negotiations” over Kosovo. The Russian Foreign Ministry appeared to punctuate that point, charging in a statement released on May 22 that the NATO air campaign is the cause of the “biggest post-war humanitarian catastrophe in Europe (Reuters, AP, Russian agencies, May 21-22).

The Russian Foreign Ministry statement also denounced NATO for what it described as an attempt to control the flow of humanitarian aid to Yugoslavia. The statement said that NATO had been distributing “recommendations” asking the UN High Commission for Refugees and other humanitarian groups to inform the alliance of any aid convoys destined for Yugoslavia. Moscow described the NATO instructions as an attempt to evade responsibility for the “ever increasing numbers of ‘mistakes’ in hitting schools, hospitals and convoys of refugees” (Reuters, May 22).