CEOL - Russian General Threatens Kosovo Force Review

MOSCOW, Dec 3, 1999 -- (Reuters) An outspoken general said on Thursday Moscow could review Russia's involvement in the KFOR peacekeeping force in Kosovo if NATO continued to "ignore international norms," RIA news agency reported.

Colonel-General Leonid Ivashov stopped short of saying Russia would pull its contingent out of Yugoslavia's Serb province of Kosovo but told RIA that Moscow had asked the United Nations to call in the KFOR chief and U.N. civilian head.

"First it carried out a military aggression against sovereign Yugoslavia," he said, referring to NATO's bombing campaign earlier this year. "Now it is encouraging the chaos of Kosovo separatists and terrorists."

RIA said Ivashov, Russia's main spokesman during the Kosovo crisis, had not said what kind of review he had in mind "but gave to understand the question of withdrawing the Russian contingent was not being considered for now."

Russia has 3,000 troops in the 40,000-strong KFOR outfit.

On Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov accused Western states of turning a blind eye to what he described as genocide by ethnic Albanians against Serbs in Kosovo and said U.N. Security Council resolution 1244 was not being adhered to.

The resolution calls for the disarmament of the ethnic Albanians' Kosovo Liberation Army.

Ivashov, the head of the Defense Ministry's International Relations Department, said NATO was crudely violating resolution 1244 and should bear in mind the future of Russia's frozen relations with the alliance would depend on ensuring the resolution's conditions are met.

"Under the cover of a U.N. resolution NATO continues to pursue the line of ignoring the norms of international law," Ivashov said, according to RIA.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ordzhonikidze told Interfax news agency that Russia had asked U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan to call KFOR chief Klaus Reinhardt and U.N. special representative Bernard Kouchner to New York to explain themselves. Ivashov made the same point in his interview.

Interfax said the deputy minister accused Kouchner and Reinhardt of "inactivity bordering on connivance" during attacks on Serb civilians during an Albanian celebration on November 30.

"In front of representatives of the U.N. and KFOR real bloodshed and pogroms were unleashed," Interfax quoted Ordzhonikidze as saying.

Russia's stepped-up rhetoric against NATO in Kosovo comes as the West increases its pressure on Moscow over what it regards as excessive use of force against civilians in the breakaway Russian region of Chechnya, where troops and aircraft are fighting Islamic separatists.

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