The Russian government moved yesterday toward authorizing the dispatch of Russian troops to Kosovo, but appeared to leave unresolved key questions regarding both the schedule of the deployment and the manner in which the government would finance the peacekeeping mission. Moscow’s uncertain signals came amid ongoing criticism of the government’s policy in the Balkans, and of the manner in which it conducted negotiations with the West over Kosovo. Several press commentaries in recent days have accused the Kremlin of capitulating to the West in those negotiations, and of coming home from this past weekend’s Group of Seven summit with nothing of significance to show for it.
Reports out of Moscow indicated yesterday that the upper house of Russia’s parliament, the Federation Council, will meet in an extraordinary session on Friday (June 25) to discuss the plan by which Russia is to send troops to Kosovo. Russian lawmakers had been awaiting a formal appeal from President Boris Yeltsin to begin their deliberations. A Kremlin spokesman said yesterday that Yeltsin had indeed forwarded the document to the Federation Council, though there is still no confirmation of this.
Reports also suggested that approval of the deployment plan would come quickly and–given Russian lawmakers’ vehement insistence that Moscow play an important role in the Kosovo peacekeeping force–seems likely. A press spokesman for the Federation Council nevertheless described a potentially cumbersome approval process yesterday. The measure will apparently first be discussed by various committees, which could occur tomorrow. The committees are then to make their recommendations to the Federation Council as a whole. The Defense and Security Committees, meanwhile, reported that, as of yesterday, they had still received no information from the Defense Ministry on its planned peacekeeping mission in Kosovo (AP, Russian agencies, June 22).
COSTS OF KOSOVO MISSION COULD BE PROHIBITIVE.