Moscow Moves to Mediate

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Yevgeny Primakov plays a great game with a bad hand. Although he was powerless to stop NATO from going to war with Yugoslavia, the Russian prime minister may use the crisis to salvage some of Moscow's prestige on the international stage. He heads off to Belgrade Tuesday, widely recognized as the one world leader who could coax the Serbs into backing down. "Despite warnings of dire consequences and threats to defy the arms embargo, the Russian response to NATO's campaign has been confined to bluster and grandstanding," says TIME Moscow correspondent Andrew Meier. "Ultimately, Primakov wants to persuade Milosevic to compromise, mediate a cease-fire and collect a reward for his efforts from the IMF."

IMF president Marcel Camdessus said Monday he had "good news" for Moscow, which will likely take the form of a rollover of Russia's IMF loans -- although the gaping holes in Russia's budget may need more. Primakov turns his attention to Milosevic Tuesday, when he visits Belgrade. And given the Russian prime minister's track record, the smart money says that when NATO and Yugoslavia eventually agree to end the current fighting, Primakov will be there wearing a matrimonial smile.

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