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Yugoslavia: More Russian Troops Heading To Kosovo

Moscow, 15 June 1999 (RFE/RL) - More Russian peacekeepers are heading toward Kosovo today to reinforce Russian soldiers occupying the airport outside Kosovo's capital Pristina. The commander of Airborne Forces, General Georgi Shpak, said today in Moscow that a convoy of 11 vehicles left early this morning from their base in Bosnia--with supplies of food, water and money--and is expected to arrive at Pristina's Slatina airport sometime tonight. The convoy includes an as yet unknown number of paratroopers. The around 200 Russian troops already in Kosovo have not allowed NATO forces to enter the airport, creating a diplomatic standoff.

Top-level talks, including telephone calls between U.S. President Bill Clinton and Russian President Boris Yeltsin have failed to settle the dispute so far. U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen and U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright are due to fly separately to Helsinki to meet with their Russian counterparts to continue negotiations.

Today marks the day all Serbian forces and police are to have withdrawn from southern portions of Kosovo, as well as the provincial capital, Pristina, under terms of the peace accord Yugoslavia signed with NATO last week.

As the Serbs pull out, NATO troops continued to pour in, numbering about 14,000 as of yesterday.