What to Do With Those Rushin' Russians?

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A convoy of Russian troops racing into Pristina -– and sealing off the Kosovo capital’s airport in cheeky defiance of NATO troops -– has not been enough to comfort the region’s new refugees: the Serb minority. Though the brutality of the spring is absent, Kosovo is now getting cleansed in reverse. Ethnic Albanians re-emerge from hiding to welcome NATO tanks; Serb residents and Milosevic’s troops file out in doleful convoys, setting fire to a house or two as they leave town. Though it can never admit it, this new exodus is fine with NATO -– on Sunday, British troops got their first taste of what peacekeeping in Kosovo will be like, killing a pistol-packing Serb who fired over their heads and would not put down his gun.

Soon, 40,000 troops from Britain, Germany, France, Italy and the U.S. will be hunkered down in the area for a long stay -– once they figure out what to do with the Russians. The U.S. says it’s considering giving the Russians their own zone of responsibility (read: Serb enclave that somehow doesn’t look like one), but under NATO command, and that’s not what the stature-seeking Russians have in mind. Bill Clinton spent an hour Sunday on the phone with Boris Yeltsin, explaining how NATO had really hoped to use the Pristina airport as an HQ -- and how Russian demands for an independent slice of Kosovo, Berlin-1946-style, would just be asking for trouble, Cold-War-style. For NATO, this may not be negotiable. No wonder the Serbs are leaving town in such a hurry. Discuss the issues >>