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Crisis 1999
News Archive 1999

Russian forces to join KFOR

Russian ships carrying troops for Kosovo peacekeeping duties reached the Greek port of Thessaloniki on Wednesday, a Russian Defense Ministry spokesman said. The ships were carrying about 500 peacekeepers and supplies. U.S. and Russian troops will soon begin joint peacekeeping patrols in the American sector of Kosovo to ease fears of ethnic Albanian and Serb civilians, the sector's U.S. commander said on Tuesday.

Russian soldiers deployed on Tuesday in a part of southwestern Kosovo where ethnic Albanian sentiment against them runs high. Three armored personnel carriers, three trucks with about 100 soldiers and 10 other armored vehicles were welcomed by German and Dutch peacekeepers already in the Malisevo area. But locals opposed their arrival, and more than 150 ethnic Albanians from Malisevo turned out to protest. Ethnic Albanians in Malisevo accuse Russians of taking part in Serb violence against them.

The Dutch government said on Wednesday it would fight NATO proposals to relocate its Kosovo peacekeeping contingent to make way for Russian troops in the southwest of the province. "We want to stay (in Orahovac) because Dutch troops are doing good work there and have won the trust of Serb and ethnic Albanian population groups,'' Foreign Ministry spokesman Arrien Lekkerkerker said.

An advance group of 54 Finnish peacekeepers was heading for Kosovo on Wednesday ahead of the country's main contingent, due to arrive in late August, the Defence Ministry said. The advance unit consists of 24 soldiers and 30 support personnel sent from Bosnia, the ministry said. The main Finnish force, a battalion of about 800 troops, is scheduled to join the NATO-led peacekeeping mission in the British sector of Kosovo on August 25.

Source: Free Serbia

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