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World - Europe

Agreement reached on Russian role in Kosovo force

leaders sign agreement
Sergeyev and Cohen shake hands over the agreement solidifying Russia's role in Kosovo
 MILITARY PLAN:
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Kosovo
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 IN-DEPTH SPECIAL:
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Russian troops under KFOR's direction but Russia's control

June 18, 1999
Web posted at: 6:56 p.m. EDT (2256 GMT)


In this story:

Deal termed breakthrough in U.S.-Russian relations

Agreement splits difference between positions

RELATED STORIES, SITES icon



HELSINKI, Finland (CNN) -- Negotiators from Russia and the United States reached agreement Friday on a plan to give Russia a role in the Kosovo peacekeeping mission.

Under the terms of the deal, which still must be approved by NATO, between 3,000 and 7,000 Russian troops would operate as part of the NATO peacekeeping force, known as KFOR. They would be stationed in the American, German and French sectors of Kosovo.

"Russian troops will serve within KFOR's unified command structure and under the commanders of the sectors in which they serve," said U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen.

However, he said, "Russian forces will remain under Russian national command and control, and there will be a Russian representative at all levels of the NATO chain of command for KFOR."

Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev emphasized that at all times, Russian troops would remain under "complete political and military control of the Russian side."

Also, the airport in Pristina, the provincial capital of Kosovo, would be open to all countries participating in KFOR. A small contingent of Russian troops had seized the airport on June 12 and had refused to let troops from NATO countries into the facility.

Deal termed breakthrough in U.S.-Russian relations

The deal came on the third day of negotiations in Finland's capital between top officials from both countries. Cohen and Sergeyev began their talks Wednesday, while Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright joined them Thursday.

Both sides hailed the agreement as a breakthrough in U.S.-Russian relations, which have been strained in recent months because of NATO's airstrikes on Yugoslavia.

"I'm convinced that if we continue to solve in this manner the most complicated questions, then the Russian-American relationship, as well as the cause of peace as a whole, will benefit," said Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov.

"Russia has a major contribution to make to stability in the Balkans. Russia shares our concern that conflict not engulf the region again, and Russia is a key partner in efforts to build a secure and prosperous Europe," Albright said.

Agreement splits difference between positions

During the talks, Russia had insisted that it could not accept a situation where its troops would be under direct NATO command, while the NATO countries had pressed for a unified, single command structure for KFOR.

The agreement splits the difference, putting the Russian troops under the direction of KFOR commanders in the three sectors but under the ultimate control of Russian commanders. During the news conference Friday where the deal was unveiled, the ministers didn't provide specifics of just how that bifurcated structure might work on the ground.

Russia participates in a peacekeeping force in Bosnia-Herzegovina that operates under a similar structure.

Russia had also wanted its own sector of Kosovo, which has been divided between five NATO powers -- the United States, France, Britain, Germany and Italy. NATO opposed a separate Russian sector on the grounds that it would effectively partition Kosovo, which the alliance considered unacceptable.

The talks were spurred on by the presence of 200 Russian troops at the Pristina airport. The Russian contingent, which had been stationed in Bosnia-Herzegovina, upstaged NATO-led peacekeepers by making a surprise entry into Kosovo last Saturday.

The troops have been holed up at the airfield, blocking NATO peacekeepers from entering the facility until the Russian role in KFOR could be determined.

Correspondents John King, Jill Dougherty and Andrea Koppel contributed to this report.


RELATED STORIES:
U.S., Russia near deal on Russian troops in KFOR
June 16, 1999
Russians await orders in Kosovo as generals meet with NATO
June 12, 1999
U.S. puts positive spin on Russian troops in Kosovo
June 12, 1999
Russian troops enter Kosovo; Moscow orders them to leave
June 11, 1999
Russians push for separate sector in Kosovo peace force
June 10, 1999

RELATED SITES:
Yugoslavia:
  • Federal Republic of Yugoslavia official site
      • Kesovo and Metohija facts
  • Serbia Ministry of Information
  • Serbia Now! News

Kosovo:
  • Kosova Crisis Center
  • Kosovo - from Albanian.com

Military:
  • NATO official site
  • BosniaLINK - U.S. Dept. of Defense
  • U.S. Navy images from Operation Allied Force
  • U.K. Ministry of Defence - Kosovo news
  • U.K. Royal Air Force - Kosovo news
  • Jane's Defence - Kosovo Crisis


Resettlement Agencies Helping Kosovars in U.S.:
  • Church World Service
  • Episcopal Migration Ministries
  • Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society
  • Iowa Department of Human Services
  • International Rescue Committee
  • Immigration and Refugee Services of America
  • Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
  • United States Catholic Conference

Relief:
  • World Relief
  • Doctors without borders
  • U.S. Agency for International Development (Kosovo aid)
  • Doctors of the World
  • InterAction
  • International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
  • International Committee of the Red Cross
  • Kosovo Humanitarian Disaster Forces Hundreds of Thousands from their Homes
  • Catholic Relief Services
  • Kosovo Relief
  • ReliefWeb: Home page
  • The Jewish Agency for Israel
  • Mercy International
  • UNHCR


Media:
  • Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty
  • Independent Yugoslav radio stations B92
  • Institute for War and Peace Reporting
  • United States Information Agency - Kosovo Crisis

Other:
  • Expanded list of related sites on Kosovo
  • 1997 view of Kosovo from space - Eurimage
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