Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 35

The Kosovo crisis, meanwhile, was a major topic of discussion during yesterday’s talks in Moscow between Russian government leaders and their counterparts from both the European Union and Germany. Following a meeting with German Foreign Minister Joshka Fischer, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov told reporters that Moscow would consider sending peacekeeping troops to Yugoslavia if a settlement is reached in Rambouillet and Belgrade requests the presence of foreign troops. He also restated Moscow’s insistence that the six-nation Contact Group be reconvened if no settlement is reached in France by the February 20 deadline (Itar-Tass, February 18). Moscow has said repeatedly that NATO has no right to launch strikes against Yugoslavia without proper authorization by the international community. Maverick Russian politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky, meanwhile, suggested yesterday that Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov had given him assurances that Russia would come to Belgrade’s aid should hostilities break out between Yugoslavia and the Western alliance. Zhirinovsky said that the pledge had come during a recent conversation he had had with Primakov. The Russian ultra-nationalist leader said that he approved of Primakov’s position, and believed that Russia should meet any Yugoslav requests for diplomatic or military assistance. The Russian government press service reportedly refused to confirm Zhirinovsky’s account of his conversation with Primakov. But high-ranking government sources were quoted as saying that the use of force against Yugoslavia could bring “unforeseen consequences” for those taking part in the military actions (Russian agencies, February 18).