Athens, 15 July 1999 (RFE/RL) - The ITAR-TASS news agency reports that a convoy of Russian peacekeepers set out from the Greek port of Thessaloniki early today for eventual deployment with NATO-led forces in Kosovo. TASS says the peacekeepers are traveling toward the Greek-Macedonian border in more than 120 trucks and armored personnel carriers. They are being escorted by Greek military police. The Russian peacekeepers are due to reach Kosovo's capital Pristina in about 24 hours.
About 500 Russian troops and their support supplies arrived yesterday at Thessaloniki as Moscow continued moves to boost the Russian contingent in Kosovo to a planned 3,600 soldiers. Members of Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority yesterday told NATO Supreme Commander General Wesley Clark that they would flee their villages if Russian troops were deployed near them. Clark was handed a petition against the Russians signed by ethnic Albanians in western Kosovo. Ethnic Albanians distrust Russians, whom they regard as allies of the Serbs.