NATO command has asked for reinforcements – a request that has been received favourably by NATO’s North-Atlantic council. The body is holding an emergency meeting on Wednesday.
Typical bureaucracy. You would think they would be holding their meetings yesterday not tomorrow.
At the same time, NATO claims it has been listening in on the radio conversations between local Serbs and police units in Belgrade. These conversations suggest that violence has been orchestrated from Belgrade.
It is well known that Belgrade is in touch with its people in Kosovo. What else would you expect? The storming of the courthouse was a dawn raid, which pre-empted the arranged meeting between the Serbian Minister for Kosovo and the Head of the UN in Kosovo. It wasn’t a wise move. The Serbs were bound to fight back. People have been wounded and killed as a result, and the situation is further from a resolution.
NATO also says the Serbian army has taken up positions near the Kosovo border. However, it is hard to say whether these units are undergoing training or are preparing for something more critical.
Training? No. The army is there to make a statement that Serbia is willing to use force in the furtherance of this dispute. It would surely be wise to talk to the Serbs now. But the EU has closed its mind.
Violent clashes have left more than 60 UN and KFOR troops and 70 Serb civilians injured in the last few days. The two most seriously injured Serb demonstrators from yesterday’s violence are reported to be in a critical condition. One of them is in coma.
Serbian President Boris Tadich has accused the UN of excessive use of force.
No one is mentioning that some of these casualties were caused by Albanians, who see the UN as taking sides with the Serbs.
Following the death of the Ukrainian peacekeeper, members of the Ukrainian opposition Party of Regions have criticised the government for sending peacekeeping troops to the region, saying the policy contradicts national interests.
Giving details of the soldier’s death, Ukraine’s Interior Minister Yaroslav Mazurkevich said he was demanding an inquiry into the incident.
“Igor Kinnel died during surgery. He was born in 1982 and began his career in the Interior Ministry in 2000. Like most of the boys who took part in the operation he got shrapnel wounds. Many others are suffering from contusions, concussion of the brain and injuries to their arms and legs,” he said.
The Ukrainian forces in Kosovo don’t have their heart in this. Nor do the Poles want to get into direct confrontation with Serbia. Only the French seem to have the idea that the Serbs have to be humiliated. It won’t take much for this situation, already nasty to become absolutely terrible.
The whole thing could be prevented by simply talking to the Serbs and accepting that some kind of partition agreement is inevitable.
Reports from China News (Xinhua) on the meetings between Gates, Condie Rice and the Russians provide some interesting background comments to the goings-on in Kosovo.
Analysts believe that Russia-U.S. relations are highly vulnerable and maybe become a victim of verbal attack from any side at any time. But common ground also exists between the former Cold War rivals.
“Ten or 15 years ago, the United States decided it was to be the only engine (of the world), and under the umbrella of the spread of liberty and democracy it would preserve its security. It did not happen. Now the United States and Russia understand that something needs to be done,” said Vladimir Sizov, political expert with the Russian Academy of Sciences.
Russia, it seems is willing to assume a cooperative role with the west, but on the basis of perceived equality, not of subjugation.
The change of presidency in each country “always opens new possibilities” for development of bilateral relations, Kremenyuk said, expecting the two states to sit down and work out a sensible agreement on bilateral ties.
However, there is still a long way to go.
Are the Russian already trying to look beyond George Bush to a more modest and cooperative America with Barack as President? Medvedev might make it easier to deal with Russia as a more balanced individual, as Putin is prone to irrational outbursts.
“The aspiration of certain political forces to act in line with the political and psychological mindset of ‘deterring’ Russia has asserted itself in European policy and the CIS territories,” said a report published on the Russian Foreign Ministry’s website on Tuesday, warning that crises will persist in world politics, particularly in Europe.
Interesting that this indicates the Russians see Europeans as the problem, and not the Americans.
Coming events in Kosovo could be the moment that Russia reasserts its authority, and shows that it will not accept humiliation for herself or her allies. If the Americans are pursuing a closer cooperative relationship with Moscow, they are hardly likely to authorise a major bombing campaign of Serbia as they did to end the last Kosovan war.
If Serbia does go to war over Kosovo, and it seems increasingly likely that she will, it will probably plan a short sharp blow, seize the areas it wishes to maintain as Serb, and then negotiate from that position. If she moves quickly, she will probably achieve her aims, having full Russian diplomatic support.
NOTE – Serbia’s military has gone through a major reorganisation in the last two years where her armed forces are no longer based on conscripts but are predominantly professional. Much of her equipment has been upgraded. Serbian military skill should not be underestimated. In the last Kosovan War in 1999, Serbia managed to shoot down a stealth fighter using a basic Russian SAM, by adapting it to work with a heat-seeking target finding system, combined with a laser range-finder.