NYT - Russia, Yugoslavia condemn Nato, UN in Kosovo

December 23, 1999

BELGRADE (Reuters) - Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev, in talks on Thursday, condemned the NATO-backed United Nations mission in Kosovo as a failure and called on the U.N. Security Council to act immediately.

``Yugoslavia and Russia regard this state of affairs (in Kosovo) as untenable,'' said a statement read on state television after the meeting.

The statement, following the meeting that came amid tension between Moscow and the West over the Russian offensive in Chechnya, added that the binding international documents on Kosovo had been grossly and systematically violated.

``The U.N. Security Council has an obligation to immediately take steps against those responsible for failure to implement its mandate, and to secure the strict respecting of its 1244 resolution and the military-technical agreement,'' said the statement.

The resolution guarantees the territorial integrity of Yugoslavia.

Moscow has said the NATO-led KFOR peacekeeping force is failing to prevent ethnic Albanian revenge attacks on Kosovo Serbs, which has forced most of them to flee, and ensure the province does not drift toward independence.

Russia has traditional ties to its fellow Orthodox Slavs in Serbian-led Yugoslavia and bitterly opposed NATO's air war against the Balkan state earlier this year that forced Belgrade to halt mass repression of Kosovo's ethnic Albanians.

But Russia played a key role in brokering a Serbian military withdrawal from Kosovo and has contributed to the U.N.-backed Kosovo peacekeeping operation even while remaining at odds with NATO on key political issues.

The statement following the Sergeyev-Milosevic meeting on Thursday said: ``Russia resolutely supports Yugoslavia in the protection of the sovereignty and integrity of the country.''

It added that Milosevic stressed that ``Yugoslavia would never recognize a single decision or state of affairs which are contrary to those principled commitments.''


Earlier on Thursday, Sergeyev met his Yugoslav counterpart Pavle Bulatovic. They too denounced the role of NATO-led peacekeepers and U.N. mission in the war-shattered Yugoslav province.

``We exchanged opinions and thoroughly analyzed the articles of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1244, the military-technical and the Helsinki agreement,'' Sergeyev said, referring to accords underpinning the U.N. mission in Kosovo.

He said the assessments made by his delegation and that of Bulatovic had been almost identical.

Sergeyev began a two-day visit to Yugoslavia with a meeting with Belgrade military brass believed to be focused on bilateral military cooperation that is not barred by international sanctions prevailing against Yugoslavia.

Earlier, Sergeyev told Interfax news agency in Belgrade that Russia's relations with NATO had apparently entered a new chilly phase. ``The alliance is trying to talk to Russia over the problem of Chechnya from the position of force,'' he said.

NATO powers have urged Russia to show restraint in Chechnya and to pursue peace talks with the separatist region. Moscow says it can show no mercy for ``terrorists'' in Chechnya.

Sergeyev is to spend the second day of his Yugoslav visit in Kosovo where he will meet Russian peacekeepers, KFOR's German commander, General Klaus Reinhardt, and German Defense Minister Rudolf Scharping.


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