Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 154

As anticipated (see the Monitor, August 23), ethnic Albanian protesters yesterday stopped Russian troops from taking over for Dutch peacekeepers in the city of Orahovac. What is more, the demonstrators who barricaded the roads leading to Orahovac with tractors, trucks and other vehicles, appeared to be digging in for a long stay. According to reports from Kosovo, local women brought food, water and clothing yesterday to the ethnic Albanian men and boys manning the barricades. The protesters also began to string barbed wire along the main road to Orahovac. Meanwhile, a delegation of ethnic Albanians was reported to have traveled to Pristina to deliver a letter to the UN Security Council, the UN mission and NATO command demanding that the Russians depart. Dutch officers, who were ordered last week to turn Orahovac over to the Russians, were to meet last night with their Russian counterparts to discuss the situation which has developed there (Reuters, AP, August 23).

Russian officers both on the ground in Kosovo and in Moscow reacted calmly enough to yesterday’s events. After an advance party of Russian troops was turned back yesterday by the protesters, the main Russian force relaxed a few hundred yards back from the demonstration. The Russian group commander told the Albanians that Moscow would carry out an international agreement stipulating that Russian troops patrol Orahovac. The commander of Russian Airborne Troops took much the same approach in Moscow yesterday, telling reporters that “no deadline” had been set for the arrival of the Russian troops. “There is no problem here. We didn’t get through today–we’ll get through tomorrow,” General Georgy Shpak said (Reuters, AP, Russian agencies, August 23).