Russia Today - Russians, Yugoslavs, agree Nato still threatening Balkans

BELGRADE, Dec 24, 1999 -- (AFP) Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and Russian Defence Minister Igor Sergeyev agreed Thursday that NATO policy continued to threaten peace and stability in the Balkans, a communiqué issued here said.

The Russian minister arrived Thursday and was scheduled Friday to visit Russian troops serving in Kosovo with the NATO-led KFOR peace force deployed there following the NATO bombing campaign earlier this year to force Milosevic's forces to withdraw from the breakaway Serbian province.

Russia strongly opposed the 11-week NATO bombing campaign against Yugoslavia that ended with the retreat of Serb forces from the Albanian-populated province.

Moscow temporarily froze diplomatic relations with NATO in Brussels during the campaign.

Thursday's communiqué, quoted by the official Yugoslav news agency Tanjug, said Sergeyev and Milosevic agreed "that following the armed aggression against Yugoslavia, NATO countries continue to practice a policy directed against the rights and legitimate interests of our country, and against peace and stability in the region."

Yugoslavia and Russia considered the present situation in Kosovo untenable and appealed to the United Nations "to take measures without delay against those failing to fulfil their mandate."

Belgrade has launched a full-scale propaganda campaign against the UN chief civilian administrator in Kosovo, Bernard Kouchner, for allegedly failing in his duties under UN security Council resolution 1244, which ended the Kosovo war.

The Yugoslav communiqué called for the return of Yugoslav police and military units to Kosovo.

Earlier, Sergeyev discussed the situation in Kosovo with his Yugoslav counterpart Pavel Bulatovic and told reporters Yugoslavia and Russia "share similar or totally identical views" regarding the situation there.

Russia has argued that the NATO-led force and UN administration in Kosovo is failing to protect the Serb minority that remained in the province after Yugoslav forces pulled out in June.

The Belgrade daily Vecernje Novosti reported that the talks here with the Russian minister would also focus on a possible shipment of anti-missile systems and Russian Sukhoi-27 and MIG-29 warplanes to Yugoslavia.

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