Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 107

But for all these positive developments, there were also unmistakable indications yesterday that Moscow and the West have not fully worked out their differences over Kosovo. Perhaps the most glaring sign of discord involves the command structure of the peacekeeping forces to be deployed in Kosovo. In comments to reporters prior to leaving for Belgrade, Chernomyrdin said that there would be “two separate presences in Kosovo, a NATO presence and a Russian presence.” The Russian contingent, he said, would not be under NATO command. Russian participants in yesterday’s talks also said that differences remained with the West over how to coordinate a halt to NATO’s bombing campaign, and how to manage both the withdrawal of the estimated 50,000 Serb forces in Kosovo and the deployment there of the international security force (AP, June 2).

British, American and NATO officials were quick to deny Chernomyrdin’s claim that separate forces would be stationed in Kosovo. British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook reiterated London’s view that the deployment of Russian forces in northern Kosovo–closest to Serbia–and NATO forces in the southern part of the province would effectively partition Kosovo. “We are not willing to enter into a partition of Kosovo, either by agreement or by the back door,” he told reporters. U.S. State Department spokesman James Rubin spoke similarly, saying that Washington would insist that the Kosovo peacekeeping force “have NATO command and control and a NATO structure.” It remains an “open question,” he added, “whether Russia can find a way to participate” under those circumstances. In Brussels, meanwhile, NATO spokesman Jamie Shea conceded that units of a Kosovo peace force could have “various areas of command.” But he insisted there would be no Russian sector, and no partition. The international peacekeeping force, he said, would be a single force with a single command (AP, Reuters, June 2).