Things Are Not OK in the Kosovo Corral

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Kosovo may be crawling with peacekeepers, but it’s turning into a Balkan version of Dodge City -– a lot of armed men with ill intent, many of them with little to lose. Russian troops show no sign of vacating NATO’s intended headquarters at Pristina’s airport -- the hungry paratroopers received five days' rations from a resupply column that traveled through Serbia from Bosnia Tuesday. And far from being "demilitarized" by NATO as required by the peace agreement, the KLA continued to occupy positions vacated by the departing Serbs, while some of its men carried out revenge attacks on Serb civilians in Pristina overnight. Despite NATO’s insistence that it will protect Serb civilians, thousands are following their army out of Kosovo, while others cower in a church in Prizren under the protection of German troops -– and a few continue taking potshots at NATO troops.

The air crackles with the potential for violence, and the number of crisis scenarios is growing by the day. Most immediately, the KLA is looking to emulate the Russian example by simply acting out its own interpretation of the peace accord: Insurgent leader Hashem Thaci insisted Tuesday that the movement has no intention of disarming, and warned the Russians that the KLA could not guarantee their security. So would the KLA plunge the peace process into crisis by attacking the Russians? "It’s very unlikely that the KLA would risk an open attack on Pristina airport," says TIME Central Europe bureau chief Massimo Calabresi. "This is just bluster designed to draw attention to their legitimate fear that the Russian presence signifies a danger that Kosovo will be partitioned." Acting on that bluster, though, might force NATO to play sheriff and actually implement its undertaking to "demilitarize" the rebels.

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