It was more of the same from Moscow yesterday, as Russian leaders continued to criticize NATO air strikes on Yugoslavia and to blame the strikes for the mounting humanitarian disaster in Kosovo. Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov met yesterday with his foreign and defense ministers, as well as the chiefs of intelligence services, to discuss the crisis in the Balkans. No details were released. Afterward, however, Primakov criticized NATO for its “barbaric” bombing of Yugoslavia. In addressing the issue of refugees from Kosovo, Primakov also chose to accent what he said was the large number of ethnic Serbs who have been left homeless by the hostilities there (AP, Itar-Tass, April 5).
Primakov’s comments came as Russian Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu announced yesterday that Moscow would send humanitarian aid to Yugoslavia to help the victims of the NATO air strikes. The first aid shipment will apparently consist of approximately 100 trucks carrying at least 900 tons of food, medicine and clothing. According to Shoigu, the aid shipments will be sent to both Belgrade and the Yugoslav republic of Montenegro. In remarks which appeared to indicate that at least some of the aid would be sent to Serbs rather than to ethnic Albanian refugees, Shoigu said that the aid would be for anyone in need of it, regardless of nationality. He also insisted that all of the medical aid would be Russian-made. Russia is itself currently the recipient of large-scale food aid from the United States and the European Union. Shoigu was apparently seeking to allay suspicions that the Western assistance might find its way to Belgrade (AP, RTR, April 5).
RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR AND GENERALS WEIGH IN ON KOSOVO.