Crimes, But No Punishment in Kosovo

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Shades of postwar Germany? The U.S. and the Russians continue to squabble over who will control which sector of war-torn Kosovo, while the full horror of what transpired there comes to light. This time, however, nobody’s holding their breath for a Nuremberg trial. Britain alleged Thursday that at least 10,000 Kosovars had been massacred in more than 100 separate incidents, as NATO troops uncover scores of mass graves and returning refugees piece together the horrific tales of the victims’ last hours. However, although U.S. forces have arrested two suspected war criminals from among retreating Yugoslav forces, the mass exodus of Serb security personnel and civilians makes it unlikely that most perpetrators will see justice anytime soon. And even as NATO devotes resources to assisting the investigations of the International War Crimes Tribunal in the Hague, President Clinton on Thursday answered a reporter’s question over the indictment of President Slobodan Milosevic by saying, "I do not believe that the NATO allies can invade Belgrade to try to deliver the indictment," and stressing that the alliance’s fundamental immediate obligation was the safe return of the refugees.

U.S. officials, meanwhile, met their Russian counterparts for a second day in Finland Thursday, hoping to resolve the standoff over Russia’s involvement in the peacekeeping mission. Washington insists on a unified command, and that the Russians not be given their own sector; Moscow continues to demand its own sector and refuses to subordinate its troops to NATO. "They’ll probably reach a compromise agreement by creating some form of parallel command in name that appears to satisfy both concerns," says TIME Moscow correspondent Andrew Meier. Indeed, NATO is concerned that the outflow of Kosovar Serbs will create unstoppable momentum toward independence for Kosovo, which would sharply divide Europe. And with the Serbs reluctant to trust the promised protection of those who were bombing them only two weeks ago, a strong Russian presence is NATO’s best bet for maintaining a multiethnic Kosovo.

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