Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 187

Moscow also brought its objections to Western strikes on Yugoslavia to NATO headquarters in Belgium. At an ambassadorial level meeting of the Russia-NATO Permanent Joint Council (a body established by the Russia-NATO Founding Act) on October 9, Moscow’s representatives reportedly continued to argue for a peaceful solution to the Kosovo crisis. Then, on October 11, amid reports that NATO was in the final stages of authorizing military action in Yugoslavia, the Russian ambassador to NATO and the country’s military representative at NATO headquarters–Sergei Kislyak and Lieutenant General Viktor Zavarzin, respectively–were ordered back to Moscow for emergency consultations (Itar-Tass, October 11). Zavarzin had been pulled out of Brussels earlier this year to demonstrate Moscow’s displeasure over NATO air exercises in Albania and Macedonia. Those maneuvers were also aimed at reining in Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.

Although Russia and most of the NATO member countries have clearly been at odds over the need for a credible military threat to stop the Serbian crackdown in Kosovo, reports out of Brussels on October 9 suggested that the two sides were largely in agreement over what is now being demanded of Belgrade. Zavarzin, for example, told a Russian television interviewer that “Russia’s and NATO’s positions coincide in that they think measures taken by President Milosevic to withdraw Yugoslav army units from Kosovo are not enough and that reliable international monitoring is needed” (NTV, October 9).

Zavarzin’s suggestion that Moscow favors the establishment of international monitoring in Kosovo may be noteworthy. Reports out of Belgrade over the weekend suggested that it was precisely on this point that U.S. Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke and Milosevic were deadlocked. Milosevic was reportedly prepared to pledge his commitment to UN resolutions aimed at getting Serb forces out of Kosovo. He remained opposed, however, to a condition–pushed insistently by Washington–that a large team of international monitors be installed in Kosovo in order to ensure Belgrade’s continued compliance with its commitments. According to some Western officials, the issue is important enough that a failure by Belgrade to accept monitoring could itself trigger NATO’s decision to go ahead with airstrikes. Holbrooke said yesterday that, if his mediation efforts failed, NATO would meet today to authorize military action in Yugoslavia (Washington Post, October 10; AP, October 11).