Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 92

In addition to meeting with Yeltsin, Chernomyrdin announced in Moscow yesterday that he would present new proposals to the United States regarding the Kosovo conflict during his talks today with Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott. Chernomyrdin gave no indication as to what those proposals might be, or whether they would be consistent with the principles agreed upon by Russia and the Western powers during last week’s G-7 meeting.

Chernomyrdin yesterday also said that he welcomed Belgrade’s decision to pull some of its troops out of Kosovo. He suggested that the move by Belgrade was a result of his visit to Belgrade on April 30, when he negotiated a peace plan of sorts with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. In addition, Chernomyrdin said yesterday that NATO should find a way to reciprocate Belgrade’s decision to withdraw some of its troops. “Now we have the right to expect adequate steps of the alliance,” he told reporters (Itar-Tass, May 11).

NATO leaders brusquely rejected those principles and are likely to react the same way to Chernomyrdin’s suggestion yesterday that NATO should reciprocate Milosevic’s more recent decision to withdraw troops from Kosovo. NATO leaders had already dismissed Milosevic’s offer of a partial troop withdrawal as inadequate. They report, moreover, that they have seen no evidence in the two days since the announcement that Belgrade has in any way begun to pull its troops out of Kosovo. Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov nevertheless complained yesterday that NATO’s failure to welcome the Yugoslav troop withdrawal announcement reflected the alliance’s apparent unwillingness to negotiate an end to the Kosovo crisis (AP, Reuters, May 11).

It remains to be seen what effect, if any, Yeltsin’s firing of Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov may have on the diplomatic front. In a meeting with his advisory Security Council immediately after sacking Primakov, Yeltsin reportedly threatened to walk out of the peace talks on Kosovo. “Yeltsin warned that Russia would withdraw from cooperation in the negotiations if its proposals and mediation efforts for the Kosovo conflict were ignored,” a Kremlin spokesman said (Reuters, May 12).