Kosovo Peace Deal: From Russia, With Love

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Russia has brought the Kosovo peace process too far to let it fail. But as talks falter over a Serb withdrawal, Moscow may be trying to remind the West that the deal is a compromise brokered by Russia rather than a surrender won by NATO. "The whole thing now is in Russian hands," says TIME Central Europe reporter Dejan Anastasijevic. "Milosevic accepted the deal only because Moscow and the West presented him with the same conditions." Although the differences that stalled the talks between NATO and Yugoslavian generals early Monday concern substantial issues such as the extent and timing of the Serb withdrawal, much now also rests on perceptions. The text of the deal calls for "deployment in Kosovo, under U.N. auspices, of efficient international civilian and security presences which would act as can be decided according to Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter," and specifies that the "international security presence, with an essential NATO participation, must be deployed under a unified control and command." While the alliance wants to portray that as Belgrade caving in to the original Western demand for a NATO peacekeeping force, Milosevic –- with Russian support –- is refusing to hand over Kosovo to foreign troops before they’re authorized by the U.N. Security Council.

Madeleine Albright met with leaders of the G8 industrialized nations in Bonn Monday hoping to shape such a resolution, but she'll be given a tough time by her Russian counterpart, foreign minister Igor Ivanov. "Russia knows it has the power to seal the deal here and it wants to make sure the West understands that, and that the Serbs are able to save some face," says TIME Moscow correspondent Andrew Meier. "Ultimately, though, Moscow has a vested interest in cementing the agreement." But not before Moscow’s done a little raining on NATO’s victory parade.

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