One of the key goals of Western leaders in drafting yesterday’s joint statement with Russia was to get Moscow on board diplomatic efforts to end the conflict with Yugoslavia on NATO’s terms. Another key goal, however, appears to have been to produce a document which might serve as the basis for a UN Security Council resolution–one which would ultimately provide international legitimacy for the Kosovo settlement plan drafted by the United States and its NATO allies. With such a resolution in hand, NATO officials apparently believe that they might be better able to avoid the type of diplomatic standoff which has occurred in Iraq. As put by one British official, the points outlined in the joint statement should be seen as a “sketch, a framework, which might help us avoid another stalemate situation like Iraq, with the Serbs hunkered down in Belgrade and NATO forces controlling Kosovo without any real international authority for administering it” (International Herald Tribune, May 7).
For all that, yesterday’s agreement still leaves unresolved differences between Moscow and NATO on issues other than the nature of the security force to be deployed. Those differences include Russia’s continued demand for a suspension of NATO’s bombing campaign and the degree to which Yugoslav military forces must be withdrawn from Kosovo in order for the peace process to proceed. In addition, the statement does not appear to broach the question of whether a Kosovo settlement might be imposed on Belgrade without Milosevic’s consent. All these issues, clearly, will remain the subject of what are likely to be difficult negotiations in the days ahead.
YELTSIN WARNS OF WAR IN EUROPE; PATS CHERNOMYRDIN ON BACK.