Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 111

Yeltsin did say yesterday that he wouldseek a meeting with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic in an effort towin an easing of the violence in Serbia. “The more softly I speak the betterthe chances of a meeting,” Yeltsin was quoted as saying. He said that he andMilosevic will meet “and discuss the question of how to get out of thissituation without getting into a big war.” Yeltsin’s call for the meeting isprobably a result of Western pressure on Moscow to use its influence inBelgrade to move the Serbs toward a peaceful settlement. But it was unclearyesterday when or even if the Yeltsin-Milosevic talks will actually comeoff. Kremlin spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky said that the meeting couldoccur in the near future, but did not elaborate. (Russian agencies, June 9)

In the United States, Clinton administration officials reportedly saidyesterday that the president is prepared to talk with Yeltsin personally inan effort to win Russian support for tougher measures against Belgrade. Thatnews comes as diplomatic sources say that the United States and Britain havemade plans to ask the UN Security Council, possibly next week, to authorizethe use of force against the Serbs. (AP, June 9) Political directors of theContact Group nations are meanwhile scheduled to gather today in Paris. Theywill be setting up an agenda for a meeting in London on Friday of thegroup’s foreign ministers. The Contact Group is composed of the UnitedStates, Russia, Britain, France, Germany and Italy.

Some speculation has circulated that Russia’s current unwillingness to joinproposed Western actions against Belgrade is based at least in part on adesire to swap Russian support for concessions to Moscow elsewhere. Suchconcessions might involve increased international financial aid for Russia’stroubled economy or support for a softer line on UN weapons inspections inIraq. Moscow may also be angling to again accomplish diplomatically what itdid with Baghdad and Belgrade: wring out just enough concessions toundermine determination in the West for strong and united action. In thecase of Yugoslavia today, that would preserve Russia’s friendly relationswith Belgrade–a key to Moscow’s strategy in the Balkans–but would likelyensure that the problem of Kosovo continues to fester.