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EU’s next potential sanctions target revealed Forging High-quality Partnership For a New Era of Global Development : Xi Jinping পদ্মা সেতুর উদ্বোধন উপলক্ষে ১০০ টাকা মূল্যমানের স্মারক নোট ২৪ জুন এক নজরে বাংলাদেশ পদ্মা সেতু উদ্বোধন উপলক্ষ্যে প্রধানমন্ত্রী ও রাষ্ট্রপতির বাণী  Pentagon unveils new Ukraine weapons shipment Germany warns entire industries could stop due to gas shortage ২৪ জুন কোভিড-১৯ সংক্রান্ত সর্বশেষ প্রতিবেদন Japan wants more people-to-people cultural bond with Bangladesh হাওর এলাকার আশংকাজনকহারে জলাভূমি হ্রাস বন্যার ভয়াবহতা বাড়িয়ে দিচ্ছে : আইপিডি PM to open Padma Bridge on June 25  EU and NATO forming coalition ‘for war against Russia’ : Lavrov President, PM greet all involved with Padma Bridge project অবিলম্বে দেশে ভোজ্যতেলের দাম সমন্বয়ের দাবি ক্যাব এর ২১ জুন এক নজরে বাংলাদেশ ২৩ জুন কোভিড-১৯ সংক্রান্ত সর্বশেষ প্রতিবেদন AL means independence, developed Bangladesh: PM  imo steps in to facilitate flood victims LafargeHolcim signs agreement with Swisscontact Bangladesh to support waste management in MSMEs তামাকের দাম বাড়াতে মন্ত্রিপরিষদ সচিবকে ব্যবস্থা গ্রহণের সুপারিশ ৯৭ সাংসদের
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EU’s next potential sanctions target revealed Forging High-quality Partnership For a New Era of Global Development : Xi Jinping পদ্মা সেতুর উদ্বোধন উপলক্ষে ১০০ টাকা মূল্যমানের স্মারক নোট ২৪ জুন এক নজরে বাংলাদেশ পদ্মা সেতু উদ্বোধন উপলক্ষ্যে প্রধানমন্ত্রী ও রাষ্ট্রপতির বাণী  Pentagon unveils new Ukraine weapons shipment Germany warns entire industries could stop due to gas shortage Japan wants more people-to-people cultural bond with Bangladesh হাওর এলাকার আশংকাজনকহারে জলাভূমি হ্রাস বন্যার ভয়াবহতা বাড়িয়ে দিচ্ছে : আইপিডি EU and NATO forming coalition ‘for war against Russia’ : Lavrov অবিলম্বে দেশে ভোজ্যতেলের দাম সমন্বয়ের দাবি ক্যাব এর ২১ জুন এক নজরে বাংলাদেশ imo steps in to facilitate flood victims LafargeHolcim signs agreement with Swisscontact Bangladesh to support waste management in MSMEs তামাকের দাম বাড়াতে মন্ত্রিপরিষদ সচিবকে ব্যবস্থা গ্রহণের সুপারিশ ৯৭ সাংসদের Prerona Foundation-Bengal Meat collaborates NATO chief ‘cannot guarantee’ membership for Finland and Sweden Energypac Sponsors 4th Dhaka Automotive Show 2022 Putin’s Global Ratings Drop to 20-Year Low : Pew Australian envoy expects Padma Bridge to enhance regional growth

Russian airspace closure costs neighbor millions

Bangladesh Beyond
  • Updated on Sunday, June 12, 2022
  • 90 Impressed

Russian airspace closure costs neighbor millions

 

Dhaka June 12 2022 :

 

Inside Russia : Outside Russia : News Digest by Embassy of Russian Federation in Bangladesh on June 12 2022.

 

INSIDE RUSSIA

SPIEF 2022 plenary session with Putin to take place on June 17

 

MOSCOW, June 11. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin will traditionally attend the SPIEF 2022 plenary session, which will be held on June 17, Roscongress Foundation reported on its site on Saturday.

The plenary session of the 2022 St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) will be moderated by Margarita Simonyan, the editor-in-chief of the RT broadcaster and Rossiya Segodnya media group.

Roscongress added that the forum’s topic is ‘New Opportunities in a New World,’ which reflects the current global changes around the world and provides an occasion for dialogue with all interested parties.

The 25th edition of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) will be held on June 15-18, 2022. According to Roscongress, more than 2,700 business representatives, including over 1,000 heads of companies, had confirmed their participation in the forum by June 1. Representatives of all Russian regions have confirmed their in-person participation.

 

US sanctions policy to create another G8 group – Russian parliament speaker

MOSCOW, June 11. /TASS/. The United States and its allies are destroying economic ties by their sanctions policy, creating new points of growth in other countries, Russian State Duma (the lower house of parliament) Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin wrote on Telegram on Saturday.

“The move by Washington and its allies to cut the existing economic ties has created new points of growth in the world,” he pointed out. According to the parliament speaker, Western sanctions are leading to the establishment of another group of eight nations – China, India, Russia, Indonesia, Brazil, Mexico, Iran and Turkey – that is 24.4% ahead of the old group of developed countries in terms of GDP and purchasing power parity.

“The United States, with its own hands, has created conditions for countries willing to build an equal dialogue and mutually beneficial relations to actually establish a new G8 group with Russia,” Volodin noted.

 

OUTSIDE RUSSIA

Russian diplomat slams Biden’s attempt to blame Moscow for high US inflation rates

UNITED NATIONS, June 11. /TASS/. US President Joe Biden’s attempt to blame Moscow for high inflation rates in the United States is unconvincing, Russian First Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations Dmitry Polyansky wrote on Twitter.

“Looks like President Putin is governing the US as well, since he can impose taxes on food and gas. Unconvincing and futile attempt by the US president to shift the blame and escape his responsibilities,” the tweet reads.

Biden said earlier that inflation was “a real challenge to American families.” “We’ve never seen anything like Putin’s tax on both food and gas,” he added. The US Department of Labor said earlier that the consumer price index had increased 8.6% from a year earlier.

On February 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a special military operation based on a request from the heads of the Donbass republics. The Russian leader stressed that Moscow had no plans to occupy Ukrainian territories and the goal was to demilitarize and denazify the country. In response, the West imposed major sanctions on Russia. In addition, Western countries started to provide weapons and military equipment to Kiev, whose total value is currently estimated at billions of dollars.

 

China does not want war in Ukraine, but sanctions are not helpful too — minister

 

BEIJING, June 12. /TASS/. The Chinese government is not interested in a conflict in Ukraine, but, at the same time, it does not believe that sanctions can help in resolving the crisis, Chinese State Councilor and Defense Minister Wei Fenghe told the Shangri-La Dialogue security forum in Singapore on Sunday.

“A conflict or a war are the last thing that China would want to see in Ukraine. At the same time, we do not believe that maximum pressure or sanctions can solve the problem. It may cause even more tensions and make the problem even worse,” the official said in a speech, broadcast live on YouTube.

The government of China supports the dialogue between Russia and Ukraine and hopes that the United States and NATO would hold talks with Russia for a soonest ceasefire, Fenghe told.

“China supports negotiations between Russia and Ukraine. We also hope that the US and NATO would hold talks with Russia to create conditions for a soonest ceasefire,” he said.

Russian airspace closure costs neighbor millions

 

Russian airspace closure has forced Finnish air carriers to re-route flights and deprived Helsinki of profits from air navigation fees

By RT

Updated Jun. 11, 2022 12:59 PM

The closure of Russian airspace has resulted in a number of problems for Finnish air carriers, including the need to re-route flights and the loss of around €1.5 ($1.58) million per month in air navigation fees, the Finnish newspaper Iltalehti reported this week, citing the head of air traffic control Matts-Anders Nyberg.

“Every month, we lose around €1.5 million in navigation fees due to the overflight ban,” Nyberg was cited as saying.

Russia closed its airspace at the end of February as part of retaliatory sanctions after a number of European countries, including Finland, banned Russian planes from their airspace in response to Russia’s military operation in Ukraine. According to Nyberg, as a result, the number of flights from Finland and through Finland to Asia and back has dwindled since late February. Many flights from Amsterdam and Copenhagen to Asia previously passed through Finnish airspace, and Finland profited from the air navigation fees. Now, these flights have to be re-routed via the Caucasus or the North Pole.

The journeys themselves are now much longer – a flight to Tokyo, for instance, now takes 13 hours instead of nine – and Finland no longer receives the air navigation fees for Asia-bound planes that previously passed through Finnish airspace. Also, according to Nyberg, Russia is no longer paying fees for flights over the Gulf of Finland to Kaliningrad.

The closure of Russian airspace also damaged Finnair, the country’s largest airline, Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat reports. Even the future of the carrier is in jeopardy, according to the news outlet. Because Helsinki is closer than other European hubs to the key cities of China, South Korea and Japan, Finnair has long relied on this advantageous geographic location for flights to Asia.

However, Finnair now has to fly around Russia, which greatly reduces its advantage over competitors, especially Chinese carriers, which can still use Russian airspace. With the average 40% increase in flight time, the company has to spend more on fuel, personnel and navigation costs. Finnair’s operating loss for the first half of 2022 already amounted to a record €133 ($140) million, and the company was forced to make major staff cuts and started leasing crewed aircraft to other airlines to reduce losses, the report states.

 

Damascus Airport ‘disabled’ by ‘Israeli’ attack

After an Israeli strike forced Syria to suspend operations at Damascus Airport, Moscow sent a stern warning to Tel Aviv

By RT

Updated Jun. 11, 2022 11:03 AM

The Syrian authorities said on Friday that Damascus International Airport had temporarily suspended operations due to “technical disruptions,” just hours after a massive airstrike blamed on Israel. Satellite images showed photos of severely damaged runways and claimed the facility has been “completely disabled.”

All flights have been suspended for at least 48 hours and some traffic is being rerouted through Aleppo, AFP reported, citing an airport employee who wished to remain anonymous.

Russia confirmed that the airport suffered “serious damage,” and that Syrian officials told Moscow repairing the damaged runways may take “significant time.”

While Israel has not officially commented on the attack, satellite company ImageSat International (ISI) published photos of the destruction and said that Friday’s strike “disabled the entire airport until repair.”

New imagery of #Damascus international Airport shows extensive damage to both military & civilian runways from this morning’s strikes.This comes after Syria’s Ministry of Transport halted flights to and from the airport. pic.twitter.com/ng5Ui6vyEn

— ImageSat Intl. (@ImageSatIntl) June 10, 2022

Previous strikes on the infrastructure in April and May damaged multiple connecting runways and shortened the main runway, before it was taken out of commission entirely on Friday morning, ISI noted.

The missiles came from the direction of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights shortly after 4am local time on Friday, and most of them were shot down by air defenses, Syria media said. The attack “resulted in the injury of a civilian and the infliction of some material losses,” according to one official.

Israel has repeatedly targeted Syria with missiles, usually fired from the occupied Golan Heights or from Lebanese airspace, wary of air defense systems provided by Russia to Damascus. On the rare occasions that Israel has acknowledged the attacks, its government said it was exercising preemptive self-defense against the Iranian presence in Syria.

Tehran has offered military aid to Damascus in recent years against both Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) terrorists and other jihadist militants. Israel claims Iran is using civilian flights to Syria to smuggle weapons and missile parts to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Syria has repeatedly protested the “Israeli aggression,” to no avail. On Friday, Moscow sent another warning to Tel Aviv.

“Continued Israeli attacks on Syrian territory in violation of basic norms of international law are absolutely unacceptable,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Friday. “We strongly condemn Israel’s provocative attack on a critical object of Syrian civilian infrastructure.”

“We demand that the Israeli side stop this vicious practice,” Zakharova added, noting that such “irresponsible” actions endanger innocent lives and create serious risks for international air traffic.

Russia has protested the “vicious” Israeli strike, as Syria confirms the suspension of airport operations

 

SPECIAL MILITARY OPERATION IN UKRAINE

Civilians start leaving Azot plant in Severodonetsk – LPR ambassador to Russia

 

LUGANSK, June 12. /TASS/. Civilians have begun leaving the Azot chemical plant in Severodonetsk, Rodion Miroshnik, Ambassador of the Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) to Russia, said on Saturday.

“Civilians have started coming out of Azot!” he wrote on his Telegram channel. “Civilians began to exit by Gate 2 of the Azot chemical plant. That gate is not controlled by militants. They (civilians – TASS) are being met and taken to safety by soldiers of the allied forces.”

Miroshnik says that the remaining Ukrainian troops are holding a few buildings next to Gate 1.

“There are periodic exchanges of fire,” he said adding that several hundred civilians may still be held hostage by the militants.

“As the militants are being encircled more and more, the civilians will be able to come out of their shelters. The allied forces are preparing transport for their evacuation,” the diplomat concluded.

Earlier on Saturday, Miroshnik said that 300-400 Ukrainian fighters and up to 500 civilians might be holed up at the plant and that contact with the militants had been established and that negotiations were underway.

On Thursday, Colonel General Mikhail Mizintsev, the chief of Russia’s National Defense Management Center, said that Ukrainian militants, who were forcibly holding hundreds of Severodonetsk residents in the Azot plant’s underground facilities, planned to blow up chemical containers when retreating.

 

Ex-DoD Officer: US, NATO Seek Peace as Russian Military Victory in Ukraine is All But Inevitable

Ekaterina Blinova; Sputnik

US officials have been meeting regularly with their UK and EU counterparts to discuss how to end the Ukraine conflict through a negotiated settlement, CNN revealed in early June, adding that Kiev is not directly involved in those discussions. Proposals include Ukraine’s non-aligned status, and a Russo-Ukraine deal on Crimea and Donbass’ future.

“I think that President Biden has been torn between keeping up his administration’s propaganda talking points in public which state that official US policy is to help Ukraine win the war against Russia, and – behind the scenes – probably being told weekly, if not daily, by members of his national security team that the chances of a Ukrainian military victory remain extremely slim,” David T Pyne, an EMP Task Force scholar and former US Department of Defenсe officer, says.

According to Pyne, the CNN article is interesting because it shows the Biden administration’s behind-the-scenes push for peace has been continuing during most of the conflict. In particular, in May, Italy came up with a four-point framework, which included “Ukraine committing to neutrality with regard to NATO in exchange for some security guarantees, and negotiations between Ukraine and Russia on the future of Crimea and the Donbass region,” according to the media outlet.

“Reportedly, the Biden administration was privately urging Zelensky to negotiate a peace deal until early April when Russia unilaterally withdrew its troops from northern Ukraine, ending its attempt to encircle Kiev, and from north-eastern Ukraine, which they seemed to view as a potential turning point of the war showing that Ukraine could force Russian military withdrawals. Thus the US and UK were emboldened to encourage Zelensky not to negotiate a compromise peace agreement with Russia,” the former Pentagon officer says.

After Russia’s withdrawal, US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin claimed on 25 April that the US goal was to “weaken” Russia so that it no longer had the capacity of carrying out large-scale military actions. In May, Biden signed a lend-lease Bill to expedite more lethal weapons to Kiev as well as the $40Bln package of US military aid.

However, in light of steady gains made in Donbass by the DPR and LPR, US officials have started to realise that Ukraine’s prospects for peace will rely on diplomacy, according to CNN.

First, the push for a peaceful settlement is driven by the understanding that “the potential risks of prolonging the war unnecessarily by providing a blank cheque of military aid to Kiev greatly outweigh any potential benefits”; and second, “the Biden administration and NATO leaders are coming to the stark conclusion that Russia is winning the Battle of Donbass and that ultimate Russian military victory over Ukraine is all but inevitable,” Pyne says.

“I think it is a hopeful development for peace that the Biden administration has begun shifting to a more realistic position after former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger came out in support of Ukraine trading land for peace in late May around the same time as the New York Times editorial board issued a similar call,” he adds.

Two Camps in Biden Administration

“The Biden administration national security team is reportedly divided between liberal internationalists who want to help Ukraine fight a long war against Russia, and realists who see inherent risks of escalation in this approach,” explains the EMP Task Force scholar.

Initially, the liberal internationalists rejected Moscow’s draft security agreements which requested legal guarantees of NATO’s non-expansion eastward and non-admission of Ukraine to the transatlantic alliance, among other matters.

“These liberal internationalists mistakenly believe NATO to be the cornerstone of US national security when the truth is that US membership in NATO serves as a potential millstone around America’s neck that could drag it down into an unnecessary world war with Russia, which would inevitably escalate to the nuclear level,” Pyne says.

Snubbing Moscow’s security plan prompted the Kremlin to start the special operation to de-militarise Ukraine which would never have begun if US and NATO concluded a security deal with Moscow, Pyne suggests.

Fortunately, before the Russian operation, the realists in the US administration succeeded in influencing Biden’s decision “to provide strategic clarity” ahead of Russia’s Ukraine operation that under no circumstances would the US send troops to fight Russia or intervene militarily in Ukraine, the former Pentagon officer points out.

Pyne notes that as the conflict has now dragged on for more than 100 days with no clear end in sight, the failure of Biden’s reckless policy to fight a proxy war in Ukraine has become much more difficult for the administration to deny.

Meanwhile, even though Biden acknowledged the importance of a Russo-Ukrainian peaceful settlement in a 31 May op-ed, he insisted that the US should send heavy weapons to Kiev to improve its negotiating positions. The president is making a huge mistake, according to the ex-DoD officer.

“The problem is that although the administration might be urging Zelensky to resume peace negotiations behind the scenes (despite its denials to the contrary), continued large-scale US military aid serves as a huge disincentive to Zelensky to put his previous offer of independence for the Donbass back on the table,” argues Pyne.

According to the EMP Task Force scholar, “overwhelmingly the US national security interest in Ukraine is to end the war with a compromise peace agreement as soon as possible to avoid an unwanted escalation of the conflict.” Therefore, the Biden administration must take immediate action to persuade Kiev to return to the negotiating table, he believes.

West is Still Reluctant to Embrace Russia’s Security Proposals

It is also clear that neither the US nor NATO are ready to return to Moscow’s draft security proposals, Pyne says.

“Unfortunately, I believe that the Biden administration has painted itself into a corner,” he says. “Despite the fact that many provisions in Russia’s proposed mutual security agreement would better serve the US national security interest and enhance the safety, security and stability of our NATO allies, I don’t think Biden is ready to sign such an agreement as yet. An increasing number of western experts see the wisdom of including the Russian Federation in the security architecture of Europe, but I think the Biden administration has been slow to realise that.”

The former Defense Department officer argues that “rather than expanding NATO to Russia’s borders, the West would have been far better off to invite Russia to join NATO in the early to mid-Nineties to ensure Russia did not feel threatened, and to ensure that the US and Russia never returned to being adversaries.”

According to Pyne, the most important thing is to negotiate and finalise a peace settlement ending the Ukraine conflict and then normalise diplomatic and trade relations between the West and Moscow, followed by the signing of a mutual security agreement creating a demilitarised buffer zone in Eastern Europe separating NATO from Russia.

US Sanctions Backfired

In addition to stepping up military assistance to Ukraine, the US has slapped an unprecedented slew of sanctions on Russia after the beginning of the special operation. However, the attempt to “bleed Russia of both blood and treasure” has come at a cost for the West. According to CNN: “The issue is particularly politically fraught heading into election season, with gas prices continuing to rise largely because of the measures the West has taken to cut off imports of Russian oil and gas,” the media outlet said.

“I am sure that President Biden is also having buyer’s remorse as the administration’s heavy economic sanctions on Russia appear to have had a more adverse reaction on the US economy than Russia’s, causing the US economy to go into a recession while Russia’s trade surplus has increased significantly with the ruble at a seven-year high,” says Pyne. “Biden’s economic sanctions are not merely harming the US economy. They are serving to imperil the chances of the president’s party in the looming mid-term election in November helping to ensure that the Democrats will be swept from power in both houses of Congress.”

Furthermore, though President Vladimir Putin’s popularity among the Russian people has increased substantially since the special operation began, Biden’s is now at an all-time low with his average approval rating having fallen to 39percent, the former Pentagon officer highlights. In addition to that, a recent poll shows public support for continued US military aid to Ukraine has dropped to only 38 percent of Americans polled, he adds.

“The bottom line is that the American people don’t want war with Russia. They appear ready to elect dozens of America-First Republicans to Congress who understand that the safety and security of the USA rests, not merely on maintaining a strong military, but on more friendly, productive and peaceful relations with the Russian Federation, given that it remains a nuclear superpower,” Pyne emphasises.

 

How Russian troops confronted NATO forces in Yugoslavia, in a significant post-Soviet first

RT remembers a key moment of the conflict that shifted Russia’s view of the West in 1999

By RT

Updated Jun. 11, 2022 07:18 PM

The events of the 1990s in Yugoslavia are often overlooked in discussions about today’s relations between Russia and the West. Many fail to grasp why public opinion in Russia, which had looked favorably on the US and Western Europe after the Soviet collapse, suddenly shifted to a position of increased skepticism.

What jolted the naïve and idealistic illusions of many Russians was NATO’s infamous operation against Yugoslavia in 1999.

The formal pretext for the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia was the Kosovo War. The Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), a group of ethnic Albanian rebels, had been fighting a guerrilla insurgency and organizing terrorist attacks on Serbian government forces, while the Serbs had tried to retaliate. Both sides committed atrocities, but the West, motivated by political considerations, chose to support the Albanians.

From March 24 until June 10, 1999, NATO forces conducted a massive aerial bombing campaign against Yugoslavia. There are various reports on the exact number of victims, but anywhere from 270 to 1,000 military and police and 450-2,500 civilians were killed, while the economy and infrastructure suffered major losses. Belgrade agreed to all of the terms demanded by the winning side, and NATO’s peacekeepers were deployed to Kosovo, replacing Serbian-led forces.  

This was seen as a tragedy by the Russians. Historically, Russia has had strong ties, and an emotional connection, with Serbia.

The USSR had just fallen apart and the Chechnen rebellion was still a major concern, so Russians understood the Serbs’ situation very well. Many believed at the time, and still believe now, that Russia avoided the Yugoslavia scenario only because it was a nuclear state. 

Many Russians reacted with protests in front of the US embassy and the diplomatic missions of its allies who participated in the bombings. Some even went to Yugoslavia to fight alongside the Serbs as volunteers. As a state, however, Russia was in no position to do anything substantial to support its long-time friends.

The country was trying hard to recover from a devastating economic crisis. The domestic political scene was also very tense, and the army was in shambles. Nonetheless, Moscow wanted to be included in the peacemaking operation in Kosovo and, ideally, to get a mandate to deploy its peacekeepers in the north of Kosovo, which was home to the local Serbian population.

This was a very reasonable idea, since ethnic Serbs had no one to protect them against ethnic cleansing after the Yugoslavian army was expelled from the area. But to NATO, this looked way too ambitious. Given that the US-led bloc was unwilling to cooperate, the Kremlin decided to try and force its hand into accepting Russia’s participation.

The plan was pretty simple and consisted of a maneuver by Russian troops that were part of the Stabilization Force in Bosnia and Herzegovina (SFOR). A combined Russian battalion was to enter Kosovo, reach the city of Pristina, and secure its airport. This was then to be used as leverage in talks about Russia’s participation in the international peacekeeping effort.

On June 10, the Russian SFOR received covert instructions to prepare 200 troops and light armored vehicles and march to Slatina Air Base in Pristina. The combined battalion of Russian paratroopers was to accomplish the mission under the command of Colonel Sergey Pavlov. Today, Pavlov trains cadets at a military academy.

Politically, the plan was produced by the Russian Foreign Ministry and the GRU, the country’s military intelligence agency, although there were significant factions within the Russian government that didn’t support the idea. Precautions were made to prevent any leaks. Only six people had full access to the information about the plan.  

A separate small unit was already stationed in Kosovo. It consisted of 18 soldiers from the GRU special task force commanded by Yunus-Bek Yevkurov. As agreed with the Serbs, Yevkurov was appointed commander of this group, tasked with a reconnaissance mission – they were to prevent any unexpected occurrences at the airfield when the main forces arrived there.

The special task force operated in an efficient and unobtrusive manner, carrying out reconnaissance missions and keeping the situation under control, while trying to avoid encounters with NATO troops and KLA fighters.

Meanwhile, preparations for the planned operation were underway in Bosnia. The Russian airborne unit organized a military drill as a cover allowing them to get the equipment and troops ready for the launch of the operation. Each soldier was issued a double ammunition load and enough dry rations to last for 10 days.

At 4am on June 11, the group left the Bosnian town of Ugljevik, driving their APCs and trucks across Yugoslavia towards Pristina. There was a total of 15 APCs and 35 military vehicles carrying 206 soldiers. Apart from common military trucks, there were several refueling vehicles and a communications vehicle in the column. They had to cover a distance of over 600km to get to their destination. Because of the emphasis on speed, initial plans calling for a larger convoy were pared down to just the essential vehicles.

The column moved forward at a high speed – approximately 80 km/h – because the Serbian police had cleared the road for them, thus securing a ‘green corridor’.

In Yugoslavia, the column received a very warm welcome from enthusiastic crowds. In Pristina, Serbs showered the Russian APCs with flowers as they passed. This was indeed a very pleasant experience for the troops, but it also slowed down their march. The APCs finally reached the concrete tarmac of the Slatina Air Base just before dawn. The Serbian soldiers greeted them very cordially, then delegated control of the airfield to them and left their positions.

At approximately 11am, British and French troops moved out towards Pristina from Macedonia. The British attempted to use Slatina’s runway to land their helicopters, but the Russian APCs patrolling the airfield prevented this from happening.

“General Wesley Clark was furious. I couldn’t fault him for that, but I knew that, fortunately, we weren’t on the brink of World War III,” US President Bill Clinton recalled later.

General Sir Michael Jackson, who was in command of NATO’s Kosovo Force, stepped forward and ordered British tank crews to move out towards the airfield. At that moment, the Russians’ interpreter, senior lieutenant Nikolay Yatsikov, told the British that if they were to proceed the consequences would be dire. At this time a single Russian soldier, whose last name was Ivanov, stepped out and moved defiantly toward the tank, clutching a grenade launcher and ready for combat. 

The British would have had no trouble defeating the 200-strong Russian battalion. However, that could have ignited a war between two nuclear powers. And that is exactly what Jackson said to his superiors: “I’m not going to have my soldiers be responsible for starting World War III.”

The British personnel surrounded the airfield. Russian paratroopers spent the next few days encircled. Meanwhile, the politicians continued to negotiate. 

The result of these negotiations was, by and large, a disappointment. Russia was able to send a contingent of its troops to Kosovo, but it didn’t get its own separate sector. Effectively, that meant that Kosovo’s Serbs would never receive adequate protection from the Albanian fighters’ campaign of terror. Russia was a weak nation at the time, and it couldn’t make up for its lack of political, economic, and military power with a few bold moves.

Over the next few years, a Russian peacekeeping force (a total of 650 men) served in Kosovo. The troops withdrew from the province in 2003.

Throughout these years, ethnic cleansing took place in Kosovo, with NATO’s silent approval. The majority of the Serbs left the province; many were killed. Serbian monuments and historic sites were wiped off the face of the earth. 

Ultimately, Russia’s seizure of Pristina airport did not result in any major political change. Moscow ultimately failed to even secure a sector of its own.

For modern Russia, however, this episode retains a somewhat symbolic significance. For the first time since the demise of the Soviet Union, Russia had involved itself in foreign matters and pursued a policy of its own – one that ran counter to the Western narrative. Meanwhile, NATO’s operation in Kosovo had a sobering effect for those in Russia that supported West.

In Russia, the Serbs were mostly seen as a kindred and ultimately friendly people, a sentiment that remains today. Because of this, Russians resented the demonstrative horror the Serbs were subjected to by the US-led forces.

More importantly, the EU and American stance on the Kosovo conflict was morally ambiguous at best. In this complicated theater, where each side had some legitimate claims and neither was innocent, the West sympathized with one and condemned the other. It bombed Belgrade under the pretext of protecting the Albanians from ethnic cleansing but did nothing to stop the ethnic cleansing of the Serbs in the same territory after its own triumphant operation.

This inconsistency made many Russians question Western moral values and view them as nothing more than doublespeak and hypocrisy.

Moscow was also grappling with a domestic problem – Islamic terrorism in the Northern Caucasus. Just a few months later, the invasion of the Russian Republic of Dagestan by the fighters of Shamil Basayev and the Saudi commander Khattab ignited a conflict known as the Second Chechen Campaign.

Russians couldn’t help but imagine being in the Serbs’ shoes. The moral posturing by the Europeans and Americans about the war in Chechnya, against the backdrop of NATO’s bombing of Belgrade, invoked a sense of spiteful irony. 

While the operation in Pristina isn’t remembered by Russians as an example of a brilliant political victory, it is still perceived as the first time that Russia, in its post-Soviet history, was able to say a decisive ‘no’ to the West, regardless of the final outcome.

RT remembers a key moment of the 1999 conflict that ultimately helped to change Russia’s view of the West

By Evgeny Norin, a Russian historian focused on conflicts and international politics.

 

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