There are so many things to write about, so many things that the mainstream media refuses to cover, that I find myself wondering daily about what to write about. Something that I read from an e-mail I received from Stratfor has me wondering why I haven’t seen anything about the situation in Kosovo. The situation in Kosovo, where there is a clamoring for independence, coming mostly from the ethnic Albanians living there and Albania itself could be a flashpoint for a crisis between NATO and Russia.
The country of Serbia dies not want to see Kosovo gain its independence. This situation in the Balkans was the flashpoints for World War I. Serbia and Russia have long-standing ties to one another that have been there for the entire period of the twentieth century. When the Clinton administration decided to intervene in Kosovo in 1999, this was orchestrated by the Supreme NATO Commander Wesley Clark. He went behind Clinton’s back at the time and committed U.S. Troops to an intervention in Kosovo and a bombing campaign against Yugoslavia without President Clinton’s knowledge or authorization. I know that because I heard General Clark say it himself in person in Florida.
Once we had agreed to support a NATO campaign, we were locked into a conflict. The “spin” at the time was that the Serbians in Kosovo were committing “ethnic cleansing”, the REAL truth was that all sides were committing atrocities against each other. Russia objected to a NATO led force to deal in the situation in Kosovo and we agreed to let the Russians be a part of a NATO peacekeeping force. The Russians, in a weakened state and under the leadership of Boris Yeltsin, agreed. It was politically expedient for Yeltsen to agree on a joint NATO/Russian peacekeeping force to appease the majority of Russian citizens that supported Serbia, as they have done for over a century.
The sore point between NATO and Russia came after the 60 day bombing of Belgrade and other points in the former state of Yugoslavia. When the Russians landed two battalions of soldiers into the airport to engage in the peace-keeping agreement, the NATO forces, knowing that Russia was economically and militarily weak at the time, surrounded the airport and put the Russians under a type of siege. The Russian forces had no choice but to load back up and head back to Russia.
The situation in Russia is now far different. Under Putin and with the help of the Russians expansive natural gas reserves that they have been exporting to Western Europe, particularly Germany, they have staged an economic and military comeback. No longer is Russia economically and militarily weak, far from it, Russia has been flexing its military muscle of late. They have dispatched an Aircraft Carrier with its supporting fleet to the Mediterranean and have cautioned NATO not to give Kosovo independence.
According to Stratfor, the Russian Federation is trying to put pressure on the Balkan States as well as the Eastern European nations to distance themselves from NATO. They are in negotiations with Belarus who seem eager to come back into the Russian sphere. They are particularly putting pressure on Poland and the Czech Republic not to allow US Missile bases is these countries. The Soviets see the situation in Kosovo as a way to show the world that they are again a force to be reckoned with in the world. Stratfor predicts that Russia could launch a light military operation to keep Kosovo from gaining independence.
Putin, who rose to power partly because of the disillusionment due to the 1999 embarrassment of having to pull out of the NATO peacekeeping force (KFOR), staked his reputation on the premise that it would never happen again. Now, with The Russian Federation much stronger than it was in 1999, and the U.S. in a weakened position with the onus of fighting a war in Iraq and another in Afghanistan, is in no way able to put up deterrence to Russian military moves. The situation in Kosovo is certainly more egregious because of Putins’s stance that the Russian Federation would never suffer the embarrassment that it had in 1999.
In my opinion, Bush and Cheney do not have their eye on the ball in Kosovo. Bush, on a trip earlier this year was greeted as a hero in Albania that is pushing for an independent Kosovo which they call Kosova. So far the Bush Administration seems to be only concerned with the Middle East and Afghanistan. The Russians seemingly welcome a military confrontation in the Balkans to prove to the Russian people and those nations in the Balkans and in Eastern Europe that Russia is once again a world power and that they are closer to Russia than to the NATO Forces that may or may not come to their aid in the event of future hostilities. This would also ingratiate Putin in the eyes of his citizens where many yearn for a Russian return to a central place on the world stage. Not only would it be in Putin’s interest to spark a confrontation with the West, due to a weak U.S and Germany afraid to engage due to the possible cut-off of natural gas from Russia, if he didn’t oppose independence, he would be seen by many Russians as one who has backed off on an earlier stance that helped his rise to power.