Kosovo War

History of Conflict



Kosovo in Tito's Yugoslavia (1945-1986)

Tensions between the two communities had been simmering throughout the 20th century and had occasionally erupted into major violence, particularly during the First Balkan War, World War I and World War II. The Communist government of Josip Broz Tito systematically repressed nationalist manifestations throughout Yugoslavia, seeking to ensure that no Yugoslav republic or nationality gained dominance over the others. In particular, the power of Serbia - the largest and most populous republic - was diluted by the establishment of autonomous governments in the province of Vojvodina in the north of Serbia and Kosovo in the south. Kosovo's borders did not precisely match the areas of ethnic Albanian settlement in Yugoslavia (significant numbers of Albanians were left in the Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia, while the far north of Kosovo remained largely ethnic Serbian). Nonetheless, the majority of its inhabitants following 1945 were Albanians.

Kosovo's formal autonomy, established under the 1945 Yugoslav constitution, initially meant relatively little in practice. Tito's secret police cracked down hard on nationalists. In 1956, a number of Albanians were put on trial in Kosovo on charges of espionage and subversion. The threat of separatism was in fact minimal, as the few underground groups aiming for union with Albania were politically insignificant. Their long-term impact was substantial, though, as some - particularly the Revolutionary Movement for Albanian Unity, founded by Adem Demaci - were much later to form the political core of the Kosovo Liberation Party. Demaci himself was imprisoned in 1964 along with many of his followers.

Yugoslavia underwent a period of economic and political crisis in 1968, as a massive government program of economic reform widened the gap between the rich north and poor south of the country. Student demonstrations and riots in Belgrade in June 1968 spread to Kosovo in November the same year, but were put down by the Yugoslav security forces. However, some of the students' demands - particularly for real representative powers for Albanians on both Serbian and Yugoslav state bodies, and better recognition of the Albanian language - were conceded by Tito. University of Pri_tina was established as an independent institution in 1970, ending a long period when the institution had been run as an outpost of Belgrade University. The Albanianisation of education in Kosovo was hampered by the lack of Albanian-language educational materials in Yugoslavia, so an agreement was struck with Albania itself to supply textbooks.

In 1974, Kosovo's political status was improved still further when a new Yugoslav constitution granted an expanded set of political rights. Along with Vojvodina, it gained many of the powers of a fully-fledged republic: a seat on the federal presidency and its own assembly, police force and national bank. Power was still exercised by the Communist Party, but it was now devolved mainly to ethnic Albanian communists.

Tito's death on May 4, 1980 ushered in a long period of political instability, worsened by growing economic crisis and nationalist unrest. The first major outbreak occurred in Kosovo's main city, Pristina, in March 1981 when Albanian students rioted over poor food in their university canteen. This seemingly trivial dispute rapidly spread throughout Kosovo and took on the character of a national revolt, with massive popular demonstrations in many Kosovo towns. The protesters demanded that Kosovo should become the seventh republic of Yugoslavia. However, this was politically unacceptable to Serbia and the Republic of Macedonia. Some Serbs (and possibly some Albanian nationalists as well) saw the demands as being a prelude to a "Greater Albania" which could encompass parts of Montenegro, Macedonia and Kosovo itself. The Communist Yugoslav presidency quelled the disturbances by sending in riot police and the army and proclaiming a state of emergency, although it did not repeal the province's autonomy as some Serbian Communists demanded. The Yugoslav press reported that about 11 people had been killed (although others claimed a death toll as high as 1,000) and another 4,200 were imprisoned.

Kosovo's Communist Party also suffered purges, with several key figures (including its president) expelled. Hardliners instituted a fierce crackdown on nationalism of all kinds, Albanian and Serbian alike. Kosovo endured a heavy secret police presence throughout most of the 1980s that ruthlessly suppressed any unauthorised nationalist manifestations, both Albanian and Serbian. According to a report quoted by Mark Thompson, as many as 580,000 inhabitants of Kosovo were arrested, interrogated, interned or reprimanded. Thousands of these lost their jobs or were expelled from their educational establishments.

During this time, tension between the Albanian and Serbian communities continued to escalate. In 1969, the Serbian Orthodox Church had ordered its clergy to compile data on the ongoing problems of Serbs in Kosovo, seeking to pressure the government in Belgrade to do more to protect the Serbian faithful. In February 1982, a group of priests from Serbia proper petitioned their bishops to ask "why the Serbian Church is silent" and why it did not campaign against "the destruction, arson and sacrilege of the holy shrines of Kosovo". Such concerns did attract interest in Belgrade. Stories appeared from time to time in the Belgrade media claiming that Serbs and Montenegrins were being persecuted, although few appear to have been reliably substantiated. Nonetheless, there was a genuine perception among Serbian nationalists in particular that Serbs were being driven out of Kosovo.

Yugoslavia's census returns suggested that there was not in fact a great Serbian exodus from Kosovo. It was certainly true that many Serbs and Montenegrins had been expelled from Kosovo during World War II, but between the 1940s and 1990s their numbers had remained relatively constant at somewhere between 200,000 and 260,000. Their proportion of the population, however, changed significantly. It stood at 27.5% in 1948, 13.9% in 1981 and 10.9% in 1991, according to the census results. A major factor in this was the extremely high Albanian birthrate. The population of Kosovo thus grew overall, but most of the increase was accounted for by Albanians, not Serbs.

An additional factor was the worsening state of Kosovo's economy, which made the province a poor choice for Serbs seeking work. Albanians, as well as Serbs tended to favour their compatriots when filling jobs, but there were not many jobs to go round. Kosovo was the poorest part of Yugoslavia: in 1979 the average per capita income was $795, compared with the national average of $2,635 (and $5,315 in Slovenia).


Kosovo and the rise of Slobodan Milosevic (1986-1990)

In Kosovo growing Albanian nationalism and separatism in response to persecution led to growing ethnic tensions between Serbs and Albanians. An increasingly poisonous atmosphere led to wild rumours being traded and otherwise trivial incidents being blown out of proportion.

It was against this tense background that sixteen prominent members of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts (SANU, from its Serbian initials) began work in June 1985 on a draft document that was leaked to the public in September 1986. The SANU Memorandum, as it has become known, was hugely controversial. It focused on the political difficulties facing Serbs in Yugoslavia, pointing to Tito's deliberate hobbling of Serbia's power and the difficulties faced by Serbs outside Serbia proper.

The Memorandum[5] (PDF) paid special attention to Kosovo, arguing that the province's Serbs were being subjected to "physical, political, legal and cultural genocide" in an "open and total war" that had been ongoing since the spring of 1981. It claimed that Kosovo's status in 1986 was a worse historical defeat for the Serbs than any event since liberation from the Ottomans in 1804, thus ranking it above such catastrophes as the Nazi occupation or the First World War occupation of Serbia by the Austro-Hungarians. The Memorandum's authors claimed that 200,000 Serbs had moved out of the province over the previous twenty years and warned that there would soon be none left "unless things change radically." The remedy, according to the Memorandum, was for "genuine security and unambiguous equality for all peoples living in Kosovo and Metohija [to be] established" and "objective and permanent conditions for the return of the expelled [Serbian] nation [to be] created." It concluded that "Serbia must not be passive and wait and see what the others will say, as it has done so often in the past."

The SANU Memorandum met with many different reactions. The Albanians saw it as a call for Serbian supremacism at a local level. Other Yugoslav nationalities - notably the Slovenes and Croats - saw a threat in the call for a more assertive Serbia. Serbs themselves were divided: many welcomed it, while the Communist old guard strongly attacked its message. One of those who denounced it was a Serbian Communist Party official named Slobodan Milo_evi_.

In November 1988, Kosovo's head of the provincial committee was arrested. In March 1989, Milo_evi_ announced an "anti-bureaucratic revolution" in Kosovo and Vojvodina, curtailing their autonomy and imposing a curfew and a state of emergency in Kosovo due to violent demonstrations, resulting in 24 deaths (including two policemen). Milo_evi_ and his government claimed that the constitutional changes were necessary to protect Kosovo's remaining Serbs against harassment from the Albanian majority.


Kosovo under Serbian rule (1990-1996)

Slobodan Milo_evi_ took the process of retrenchment a stage further in 1990 when he abolished the autonomy of Kosovo and Vojvodina. Crucially, though, votes on the Presidency, four when Montenegro (which was closely allied to Serbia) was counted. Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Macedonia thus had to maintain an uneasy alliance to prevent Milo_evi_ from driving through constitutional changes. Serbia's political changes were ratified in a 5 July 1990 referendum across the entire republic of Serbia, including Kosovo; although most Albanians boycotted it, the result was a foregone conclusion given the much greater population of Serbia proper.

The impact on Kosovo was drastic. The abolition of its autonomy was accompanied by the abolition of its political institutions, with its assembly and government being formally disbanded. As most of Kosovo's industry was state-owned, the changes brought a wholesale change of corporate cadres. Technically, few were sacked outright: their companies required them to sign loyalty pledges, which most Albanians would not sign, although a few did and remained employed in Serbian state companies right up to 1999. Most state-employed Albanians were thus replaced by Serbs, with an estimated 115,000 Albanians losing their jobs.

Albanian cultural autonomy was also drastically reduced. The only Albanian-language newspaper, Rilindja, was banned and TV and radio broadcasts in Albanian ceased. Albanian was no longer an official language of the state. Pristina University, seen as a hotbed of Albanian nationalism, was purged: 800 lecturers at Pristina University were sacked and 22,500 of the 23,000 students expelled. Some 40,000 Yugoslav troops and police replaced the original Albanian-run security forces. A punitive regime was imposed that was harshly condemned as a "police state". Poverty and unemployment reached catastrophic levels, with about 80% of Kosovo's population becoming unemployed. As many as a third of adult male Albanians chose to go abroad (particularly to Germany and Switzerland) to find work.

With Kosovo's Communist Party effectively broken up by Milo_evi_'s crackdown, the position of dominant Albanian political party passed to the Democratic League of Kosovo, led by the writer Ibrahim Rugova. It responded to the abolition of Kosovo's autonomy by pursuing a policy of peaceful resistance. Rugova took the very practical line that armed resistance would be futile given Serbia's military strength and would lead only to a bloodbath in the province. He called on the Albanian populace to boycott the Yugoslav and Serbian states by not participating in any elections, by ignoring the military draft (compulsory in Yugoslavia) and most important by not paying any taxes or duties to the State. He also called for the creation of parallel Albanian schools, clinics and hospitals. In September 1991, the shadow Kosovo Assembly organized a referendum on independence for Kosovo. Despite widespread harassment and violence by Serbian security forces, the referendum achieved a reported 90% turnout among the province's Albanians, and a 98% vote - nearly a million votes in all - which approved the creation of an independent "Republic of Kosovo". In May 1992, a second referendum elected Rugova as President of Kosovo. The Serbian government declared that both referendums were illegal and their results null and void.


The slide to war (1996-1998)

Rugova's policy of passive resistance succeeded in keeping Kosovo quiet during the war with Slovenia, and the wars in Croatia and Bosnia during the early 1990s. However, this came at the cost of increasing frustration among the Albanian population of Kosovo. The status of Kosovo was not addressed by the 1995 Dayton Accords which had ended the war in Bosnia, and Rugova's pleas for a United Nations peacekeeping force for Kosovo had fallen on deaf ears. Milo_evi_ was still in place, having engineered his promotion to the presidency of the rump Yugoslavia (now consisting only of Serbia and Montenegro).

Continuing Serbian repression had radicalised many Albanians, some of whom decided that only armed resistance would effect a change in the situation. On April 22, 1996, four attacks on Serbian civilians and security personnel were carried out virtually simultaneously in several parts of Kosovo. A hitherto unknown organization calling itself the "Kosovo Liberation Army" (KLA) subsequently claimed responsibility. The nature of the KLA was at first highly mysterious. In fact it was initially a small, mainly clan-based but not very well organised group of radicalised Albanians, many of whom came from the Drenica region of western Kosovo. The KLA at this stage consisted mainly of local farmers and displaced and unemployed workers.

The situation was worsened in early 1997 after Albania collapsed into chaos following the fall of President Sali Berisha. Military stockpiles were looted with impunity by criminal gangs, with much of the hardware ending up in western Kosovo and so boosting the growing KLA arsenal.

Most Albanians saw the KLA as legitimate "freedom fighters" whilst the Yugoslav government called them terrorists attacking police and (Serbian) civilians. Although the US envoy Robert Gelbard referred to the KLA as terrorists, he later admitted that they were never legally classified as a terrorist organisation by the US government.[6][7][8] Shortly after making his claims that the KLA were terrorists, Robert Gelbard was removed from his position as special envoy to Kosovo.

It is widely believed that the KLA received financial and material support from the Kosovo Albanian diaspora in Europe and elsewhere. The KLA also received financial aid from the Albanian mafia.[9] Bujar Bukoshi, shadow Prime Minister in exile (in Zürich, Switzerland), created a group called FARK (Armed Forces of the Republic of Kosova) which was reported to have been disbanded and absorbed by the KLA in 1998. The response of outside powers was ambivalent: in February 1998, the United States' Special Representative to Yugoslavia, Robert Gelbard, denounced the KLA as a terrorist organization but neither the United States nor most other powers made any serious effort to stop money or weapons being channeled into Kosovo.

Meanwhile, the US maintained an "outer wall of sanctions" on Yugoslavia tied to a series of issues, Kosovo being one of them. These were maintained despite the agreement at Dayton to end all sanctions. The Clinton administration claimed that Dayton bound Yugoslavia to hold discussions with Rugova over Kosovo.

The crisis was escalated in December 1997 at the Peace Implementation Council meeting in Bonn where the so-called International Community as described in the Dayton Agreement unilaterally and without any basis in the Dayton agreement, agreed to give the High Representative in Bosnia sweeping dictatorial powers, including the right to fire elected leaders. At the same time, Western diplomats insisted that Kosovo be discussed, and that Serbia and Yugoslavia be responsive to Albanian demands there. The delegations from Serbia stormed out of the meetings in protest.

This was followed by the return of the Contact Group that oversaw the last phases of the Bosnian conflict and declarations from European powers demanding that Serbia solve the problem in Kosovo.

All of a sudden, KLA attacks intensified, centered around the Drenica valley area, with the compound of one Adem Jashari being a particular focal point. Days after Robert Gelbard described the KLA as a terrorist group, Serb police responded to KLA attacks in the Likosane area, and pursued some of the KLA to Cirez, resulting in the death of 30 Albanian civilians and 4 Serbian policemen.[10](PDF) The first serious action of the war had begun.

Despite some accusations of summary executions and killing of civilians, condemnations from Western capitals were not as voluble as they would become later, so Serb police went straight after Jashari and his followers in the village of Donje Prekaz. A massive firefight at the Jashari compound led to the death of 60 Albanians, of which eighteen were women and ten were children under the age of sixteen.[11] This March 5 event caused massive condemnation out of Western capitals, including Madeleine Albright's declaration that "this crisis is not an internal affair of the FRY". The KLA had their security guarantee and all bets were off.

On the 24th of March, Serbian forces surrounded the village of Glodjane, in the Dukagjin operational zone, and attempted to do to the Haradinaj family exactly what they had done to the Jasharis; wipe them out, down to the last child.[12][13] Despite their use of helicopter gunships, and a firefight that lasted until nightfall, the Serbian forces were thwarted in their attempts. Although there were deaths and severe injuries on the Albanian side, the insurgency in Glodjane was far from stamped out. It was in fact to become one of the strongest centres of resistance in the upcoming war.

The Serbs also presented a semblance of diplomacy, arranging talks with Ibrahim Rugova's staff, talks that Rugova and his staff refused to attend. After several failed meetings, Ratko Markovic, chairman of the Serbian delegation to the meetings, invited representatives of Kosovo minority groups to attend and maintained his invitation to the Albanians. Serbian President Milan Milutinovic showed up at one of the meetings, though Rugova did not. He and his staff insisted on talking to Yugoslav officials, not Serbian ones, and only to discuss the modalities of Kosovo independence.

A new Serbian government was also formed at this time, led by the Socialist Party of Serbia and the Serbian Radical Party. Ultra-nationalist Radical Party chairman Vojislav _e_elj became a deputy prime minister. This increased the dissatisfaction of Western diplomats and spokespeople with Serbia's position.

In early April, Serbia arranged for a referendum on the issue of foreign interference in Kosovo. Serbian voters decisively rejected foreign interference in this internal affair.

Meanwhile, the KLA claimed much of the area in and around Decani and ran a territory centred around the village of Glodjane.

So, on May 31, 1998, the Yugoslav army and the Serb Ministry of the Interior police began an operation to clear the border of the KLA. This lasted several days and led to bomb threats out of Western capitals, including a report or two claiming summary executions and killings of civilians. NATO's response to this offensive was mid-June's Operation Determined Falcon, an air show over the Yugoslav borders.

During this time, the Yugoslav President Milosevic made an arrangement with Boris Yeltsin of Russia to stop offensive operations and prepare for talks with the Albanians, who, through this whole crisis, refused to talk to the Serbian side, but not the Yugoslav. In fact, the only meeting between Milosevic and Ibrahim Rugova took place in May; Rugova was forced to attend after police sequestered him from his house in Pristina.

Meanwhile, Richard Holbrooke showed up and had his picture taken with the KLA. This confirmed to the KLA and its supporters, and to observers in general, that the US was decisively backing the KLA.

Through June and into mid July, the KLA maintained its advance. KLA surrounded Pe_, Djakovica, and now their capital was in the town of Malisevo north of Orahovac. They were infilitrating Suva Reka, and north to the area west of Pristina. They threatened the Belacevec coal pits and captured them in late June, threatening energy supplies in the region.

The tide turned in mid-July when the KLA grabbed Orahovac. This led to a series of Serb and Yugoslav offensives that lasted to early August.

These offensives led to talk of a new Srebrenica Massacre possibly taking place. During the late August offensive, there were reports of men separated from a group of prisoners in central Kosovo. During the early September offensive, a column of displaced people in the Pe_ region became the object of concern.

Finally, in September, a determined effort was made to clear the KLA out of the northern and central parts of Kosovo and out of the Drenica valley itself. During this time many threats were made by Western capitals but these were tempered somewhat by the elections in Bosnia, as they didn't want Serbian Democrats and Radicals to win. Following the elections, however, the threats intensified once again but a galvanising event was needed. They got it on September 28 when the mutilated corpses of a family were discovered outside the village of Gornje Obrinje; the bloody doll from there became the rallying image for the ensuing war.

The other major issue for those who saw no option but to resort to the use of force was the estimated 300,000 displaced Albanians, 30,000 of whom were out in the woods, without clothing or shelter, with winter approaching. These tens of thousands of displaced people would probably not survive the winter.

Meanwhile, the US Ambassador to Macedonia, Christopher Hill, was leading shuttle diplomacy between an Albanian delegation, led by Rugova, and the Yugoslav and Serbian authorities. It was these meetings that were shaping what was to be the peace plan to be discussed during a period of planned NATO occupation of Kosovo.

During a period of two weeks, threats intensified, culminating in NATO's Activation Order being given. All was ready for the bombs to fly; Richard Holbrooke went to Belgrade to get Milosevic to agree to a NATO presence in Kosovo. He brought along General Michael Short, who threatened to destroy Belgrade. Long and painful discussions led to the Kosovo Verification Agreement on October 12, 1998.

Officially, the international community demanded an end to fighting, and more specifically demanded that the Serbs end its offensives against the KLA (without linking it to the end of KLA attacks), while attempting to convince the KLA to drop its bid for independence. Moreover, attempts were made to persuade Milo_evi_ to permit NATO peacekeeping troops to enter Kosovo. This, they argued, would allow for the Christopher Hill peace process to proceed and yield a peace agreement. A ceasefire was brokered, commencing on October 25, 1998. A large contingent of unarmed OSCE peace monitors (officially known as verifiers) moved into Kosovo. Their inadequacy was evident from the start. They were nicknamed the "clockwork oranges" in reference to their brightly coloured vehicles (in English, a "clockwork orange" signifies a useless object.) The ceasefire broke down within a matter of weeks and fighting resumed in December 1998 after the KLA occupied some bunkers overlooking the strategic Pristina-Podujevo highway, not long after the Panda Bar Massacre, when the KLA shot up a cafe in Pe_.


Racak and the Rambouillet Conference (January-March 1999)

KLA attacks and Serbian reprisals continued throughout the winter of 1998-1999, culminating on January 15, 1999 with the Racak incident. The incident was immediately (before the investigation) condemned as a massacre by the Western countries and the United Nations Security Council, and later became the basis of one of the charges of war crimes leveled against Milo_evi_ and his top officials. The details of what happened at Racak are still controversial. Although the war crimes tribunal has not yet ruled on the issue, it is fair to say that the massacre narrative is broadly accepted in the NATO-countries.

NATO decided that the conflict could only be settled by introducing a military peacekeeping force under the auspices of NATO, to forcibly restrain the two sides. A carefully coordinated set of diplomatic initiatives was announced simultaneously on January 30, 1999:

0. NATO issued a statement announcing that it was prepared to launch air strikes against Yugoslav targets "to compel compliance with the demands of the international community and [to achieve] a political settlement". While this was most obviously a threat to the Milo_evi_ government, it also included a coded threat to the Albanians: any decision would depend on the "position and actions of the Kosovo Albanian leadership and all Kosovo Albanian armed elements in and around Kosovo." In effect, NATO was saying to the Serbs "make peace or we'll bomb you" and to the Albanians "make peace or we'll abandon you to the Serbs."
0. The Contact Group issued a set of "non-negotiable principles" which made up a package known as "Status Quo Plus" - effectively the restoration of Kosovo's pre-1990 autonomy within Serbia, plus the introduction of democracy and supervision by international organisations. It also called for a peace conference to be held in February 1999 at the Château de Rambouillet, outside Paris.
The Rambouillet talks began on February 6, with NATO Secretary General Javier Solana negotiating with both sides. They were intended to conclude by February 19; in any event, they continued until March 19 before breaking up with no agreement reached. The Serbian delegation was led by then president of Serbia Milan Milutinovi_, while Milo_evi_ himself remained in Belgrade. This was in contrast to the 1995 Dayton conference that ended war in Bosnia, where Milo_evi_ negotiated in person. The absence of Milo_evi_ was interpreted as a sign that the real decisions were being made back in Belgrade, a move that aroused criticism in Serbia as well as abroad; Kosovo's Serbian Orthodox bishop Artemije traveled all the way to Rambouillet to protest that the delegation was wholly unrepresentative.

The biggest problem for both sides was that the Contact Group's non-negotiable principles were mutually unacceptable. The Albanians were unwilling to accept a solution that would retain Kosovo as part of Serbia. The Serbs did not want to see the pre-1990 status quo restored, and were implacably opposed to any international role in the governance of the province. The negotiations thus became a somewhat cynical game of musical chairs, each side trying to avoid being blamed for the breakdown of the talks. To add to the farce, the NATO Contact Group countries were desperate to avoid having to make good on their threat of force - Greece and Italy were strongly opposed to the whole idea and there was vigorous opposition to military action in every NATO country. Consequently, when the talks failed to achieve an agreement by the original deadline of 19 February, they were extended by another month.

The two paragraphs above, however, are partially contradicted by the historical evidence. In particular, the statement by the co-chairmen on the 23 February 1999 that the negotiations have led to a consensus on substantial autonomy for Kosovo, including on mechanisms for free and fair elections to democratic institutions, for the governance of Kosovo, for the protection of human rights and the rights of members of national communities; and for the establishment of a fair judicial system. They went on to say that a political framework is now in place leaving the further work of finalizing the implementation Chapters of the Agreement, including the modalities of the invited international civilian and military presence in Kosovo.

The tilting of NATO towards the KLA organisation is chronicled in the BBC Television "MORAL COMBAT : NATO AT WAR" program. This happened despite the fact that General Klaus Naumann (Chairman of NATO Military Committee) stated that Ambassador Walker stated in the NAC (North Atlantic Council) that the majority of violations was caused by the KLA.

In the end, on 18 March 1999, the Albanian, American and British delegation signed what became known as the Rambouillet Accords while the Serbian and Russian delegations refused. The accords called for NATO administration of Kosovo as an autonomous province within Yugoslavia; a force of 30,000 NATO troops to maintain order in Kosovo; an unhindered right of passage for NATO troops on Yugoslav territory, including Kosovo; and immunity for NATO and its agents to Yugoslav law. The American and British delegations must have known that the new version would never be accepted by the Serbs or the Contact Group. These latter provisions were much the same as had been applied to Bosnia for the SFOR (Stabilisation Force) mission there.

If the accords did not go far enough to fully satisfy the Albanians, they were much too radical for the Serbs, who responded by substituting a drastically revised text that even the Russians, traditional allies of the Serbs, found unacceptable. It sought to reopen the painstakingly negotiated political status of Kosovo and deleted all of the proposed implementation measures. Among many other changes in the proposed new version, it eliminated the entire chapter on humanitarian assistance and reconstruction, removed virtually all international oversight and dropped any mention of invoking "the will of the people [of Kosovo]" in determining the final status of the province. Even the word "peace" was deleted. The Serbian delegation must have known that the new version would never be accepted by the Albanians or the Contact Group. It was immediately apparent that Milo_evi_ had decided to call NATO's bluff, believing that the alliance would either not make good on its threat or would do no more than launch a few pinprick raids that could easily be absorbed. Perhaps most fundamentally, Milo_evi_ appears to have calculated that he had more to lose by making peace than waging war - although the KLA threat had not yet been eliminated, its defeat was nonetheless just a matter of time, to his mind, in the face of the far more powerful Serbian and Yugoslav security forces.

Critics of the Kosovo war have claimed that the Serbian refusal was prompted by unacceptably broad terms in the access rights proposed for the NATO peacekeeping force. These would allow (in the words of the agreement's Appendix B) "free and unrestricted access throughout [Yugoslavia] including the right of bivouac, maneuver, billet, and utilization of any areas or facilities as required for support, training and operations". This was based on standard UN peacekeeping agreements such as that in force in Bosnia, but would have given broader rights of access than were really needed, and onto the entire territory of Yugoslavia, not just the province. It has been claimed that Appendix B would have authorised what would amount to a NATO occupation of the whole of Yugoslavia, and that its presence in the accords was the cause of the breakdown of the talks. The chapter dealing with the Kosovan Economy was also equally revealing. It called for 'privatization of all Government assets'; this seems to be commensurated by the fact that around 372 centres of industries were bombed during the conflict, including many with no relevance to military means.

Events proceeded rapidly after the failure at Rambouillet. The international monitors from the OSCE withdrew on March 22, for fear of the monitors' safety ahead of the anticipated NATO bombing campaign. On March 23, the Serbian assembly accepted the principle of autonomy for Kosovo [14] and non-military part of the agreement. But the Serbian side had objections to the military part of the Rambouillet agreement, appendix B in particular [15], which it characterized as "NATO occupation". The full document was described "fraudulent" because the military part of the agreement was offered only at the very end of the talks without much possibility for negotiation, and because the other side, condemned in harshest terms as a "separatist-terrorist delegation", completely refused to meet delegation of FRY and negotiate directly during the Rambouillet talks at all. The following day, March 24, NATO bombing began.


The NATO bombing campaign

Main article: 1999 NATO bombing of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia

NATO's bombing campaign lasted from March 24 to June 11, 1999, involving up to 1,000 aircraft operating mainly from bases in Italy and aircraft carriers stationed in the Adriatic. Tomahawk cruise missiles were also extensively used, fired from aircraft, ships and submarines. The United States was, inevitably, the dominant member of the coalition against Serbia, although all of the NATO members were involved to some degree - even Greece, despite publicly opposing the war. Over the ten weeks of the conflict, NATO aircraft flew over 38,000 combat missions. For the German Air Force (Luftwaffe) it was the first time it had participated in a conflict since World War II; two German Tornado pilots became the first prisoners of war in this conflict on 27 March 1999. In addition to airpower, one battalion from the US Army's 82nd Airborne Division was deployed to help combat missions. The battalion secured Apache attack helicopter refueling sites and a small team forward deployed to the Albania/Kosovo border to identify targets for Allied/NATO airstrikes.

The proclaimed goal of the NATO operation was summed up by its spokesman as "Serbs out, peacekeepers in, refugees back". That is, Yugoslav troops would have to leave Kosovo and be replaced by international peacekeepers in order to ensure that the Albanian refugees could return to their homes. However, the summary had an unfortunate double meaning which caused NATO considerable embarrassment after the war, when over 200,000 Serbs and other non-Albanian minorities fled or were expelled from the province. It was also suggested that a small victorious war would help give NATO a new role. Propaganda terms "humanitarian bombing" and "humanitarian war" were employed by the politicians.

The campaign was initially designed to destroy Yugoslav air defences and high-value military targets. It did not go very well at first, with bad weather hindering many sorties early on. NATO had seriously underestimated Milo_evi_'s will to resist: few in Brussels thought that the campaign would last more than a few days, and although the initial bombardment was more than just a pin-prick, it was nowhere near the concentrated bombardments seen in Baghdad in 1991. On the ground, the ethnic cleansing campaign by the Serbians was stepped up and within a week of the war starting, over 300,000 Kosovo Albanians had fled into neighboring Albania and Macedonia, with many thousands more displaced within Kosovo. By April, the United Nations was reporting that 850,000 people - the vast majority of them Albanians - had fled their homes.

The cause of the refugee exodus has been the subject of considerable controversy, not least because it formed the basis of United Nations war crimes charges against Slobodan Milo_evi_ and other officials responsible for directing the Kosovo conflict. The Yugoslav side and its Western supporters claimed that the refugee outflows were caused by mass panic in the Kosovo Albanian population, and that the exodus was generated principally by fear of NATO bombs. It was also alleged that the exodus was encouraged by KLA guerillas, and that in some cases the KLA issued direct orders to Albanians to flee. Many eyewitness Albanian identified Serbian security forces and KLA paramilitaries as the culprits, responsible for systematically emptying towns and villages of their Albanian inhabitants either by forcing them to flee or executions. [16] There were certainly some well-documented instances of mass expulsions, as happened in Pri_tina at the end of March when tens of thousands of people were rounded up at gunpoint and loaded onto trains, before being dumped at the Macedonian border. Other towns, such as Pe_, were systematically burned and their inhabitants killed.

German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer claimed that the refugee crisis had been produced by a Serbian plan codenamed "Operation Horseshoe". While the existence of a plan of that name remains controversial, the United Nations and international human rights organisations were convinced that the refugee crisis was the result of a deliberate policy of ethnic cleansing. A postwar statistical analysis of the patterns of displacement, conducted by Patrick Ball of the American Association for the Advancement of Science [17], found that there was a direct correlation between Serbian security force operations and refugee outflows, with NATO operations having very little effect on the displacements. There was other evidence of the refugee crisis having been deliberately manufactured: many refugees reported that their identity cards had been confiscated by security forces, making it much harder for them to prove that they were bona fide Yugoslav citizens. Indeed, since the conflict ended Serbian sources have claimed that many of those who joined the refugee return were in fact Albanians from outside Kosovo.

It is unclear what Milo_evi_ may have hoped to achieve by expelling Kosovo's Albanian inhabitants. One possibility is that he wished to replace the Albanian population with refugee Serbs from Bosnia and Croatia, thereby achieving the "Serbianization" of the province. It is quite clear that NATO achieved a considerable moral advantage by the flight, whether desired or not. If so, if desired it was a great success, as it convinced NATO's member states' populations that they had to win the conflict. Europe was already finding it hard to cope with previous waves of refugees and asylum seekers from the Balkans, and a further wave of refugees could have dangerously destabilised southeastern Europe. It is arguable that the war in Kosovo was not initially in the direct interests of the NATO states, but the refugee crisis made it so. The television pictures of thousands of refugees streaming across the border were an invaluable morale boost for NATO, making it much easier for the alliance to argue that Serbian ethnic cleansing was a greater evil than NATO bombardment.

NATO military operations switched increasingly to attacking Yugoslav units on the ground - hitting targets as small as individual tanks and artillery pieces - as well as continuing with the strategic bombardment. This activity was, however, heavily constrained by politics, as each target needed to be approved by all nineteen members states. Montenegro was bombed on several occasions but NATO eventually desisted in order to prop up the precarious position of its anti-Milo_evi_ leader, _ukanovi_. So-called "dual-use" targets, of use to both civilians and the military, were attacked: this included bridges across the Danube, factories, power stations, telecommunications facilities and - particularly controversially - the headquarters of Yugoslavian Leftists, a political party led by Milo_evi_'s wife, and the Serbian state television broadcasting tower. Some saw these actions as violations of international law and the Geneva Conventions in particular. NATO however argued that these facilities were potentially useful to the Yugoslav military and that their bombing was therefore justified.

To add to the tension, on March 31 Yugoslav forces captured three U.S. soldiers on the Yugoslav-Macedonian border. Staff Sergeant Andrew Ramirez, Staff Sergeant Christopher Stone, and Specialist Steven Gonzales were assigned to the 1st Infantry Division, which had been part of the United Nations Preventive Deployment Force (UNPREDEP) in Macedonia. The UNPREDEP mission had ended in February, but the U.S. contingent continued to conduct patrols. Yugoslavia contended that the soldiers had crossed the border in Yugoslavia, while the United States asserted that they were captured in Macedonia. During their detention, the soldiers were roughly handled and broadcast on Yugoslav television. An unofficial delegation of U.S. religious leaders including Jesse Jackson secured their release on May 2.[2][3]

At the start of May, a NATO aircraft attacked an Albanian refugee convoy, believing it was a Yugoslav military convoy, killing around 50 people. NATO admitted its mistake 5 days later, but the Serbs accused NATO of deliberately attacking the refugees. On May 7, NATO bombs hit the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade, killing three Chinese journalists and outraging Chinese public opinion. NATO claimed they were firing at Yugoslav positions. The United States and NATO later apologized for the bombing, saying that it occurred because of an outdated map provided by the CIA. This was challenged by a joint report from The Observer (UK) and Politiken (Denmark) newspapers [18] which claimed that NATO intentionally bombed the embassy because it was being used as a relay station for Yugoslav army radio signals. The bombing strained relations between China and NATO countries and provoked angry demonstrations outside Western embassies in Beijing. According to one news source, unnamed high ranking NATO sources confirmed in 2005 that the attack was in fact deliberate: "The NATO sources told Defense & Foreign Affairs that the attack was based on intelligence that then Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic was to have been in the Embassy at the time of the attack. The attack, then, was deliberately planned as a "decapitation" attack, intended to kill Milosevic." [19]

In another major incident - Dubrava prison in Kosovo - the Yugoslav government attributed 85 civilian deaths to NATO bombing. Human Rights Watch research in Kosovo determined that an estimated 18 prisoners were killed by NATO bombs on May 21 (three prisoners and a guard were killed in an earlier attack on May 19.

By the start of April, the conflict seemed little closer to a resolution and NATO countries began to think seriously about a ground operation - an invasion of Kosovo. This would have to be organised very quickly, as there was little time before winter set in and much work would have to be done to improve the roads from the Greek and Albanian ports to the envisaged invasion routes through Macedonia and northeastern Albania. US President Bill Clinton was however extremely reluctant to commit American forces for a ground offensive. At the same time, Finnish and Russian negotiators continued to try to persuade Milo_evi_ to back down. He finally recognised that NATO was serious in its resolve to end the conflict one way or another and that Russia would not intervene to defend Serbia despite Moscow's strong anti-NATO rhetoric. Faced with little alternative, Milo_evi_ accepted the conditions offered by a Finnish-Russian mediation team and agreed to a military presence within Kosovo headed by the UN, but incorporating NATO troops.

On June 12, after Milosevic accepted the conditions, KFOR began entering the war-torn land of Kosovo. KFOR, a NATO force, had been preparing to conduct combat operations but in the end its mission was only peacekeeping.[4] It was based upon the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps headquarters commanded by then Lieutenant General Mike Jackson of the British Army. It consisted of British forces (a brigade built from 4th Armoured and 5th Airborne Brigades), a French Brigade, a German brigade, which entered from the west while all the other forces advanced from the south, and Italian and United States Army brigades. The US contribution, the Initial Entry Force consisted of forces from the 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment from Fort Bragg, N.C; the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment from Schweinfurt Germany, and Echo Troop, 4th Cavalry Regiment, also from Schweinfurt, Germany. Also attached to the U.S. force was the Greek Army's 501st Mechanized Infantry Battalion. The initial US forces established their area of operation around the towns of Urosevic, the future Camp Bondsteel, and Gnjilane, at Camp Monteith, and spent four months - the start of a stay which continues to date - establishing order in the south east sector of Kosovo. Even though greetings were temporary, during initial incursion the US soldiers were greeted by Albanians young and old cheering and throwing flowers as US Soldiers and KFOR rolled through their villages. At least three U.S. soldiers from the Initial Entry Force lost their lives.[5]


Reaction to the war

The legitimacy of NATO's bombing campaign in Kosovo has been the subject of much debate. NATO did not have the backing of the United Nations Security Council to use force in Yugoslavia but justified its actions on the basis of an "international humanitarian emergency". Criticism was also drawn by the fact that the NATO charter specifies that NATO is an organization created for defence of its members, but in this case it was used to attack a non-NATO country which was not directly threatening any NATO member. NATO countered this argument by claiming that instability in the Balkans was a direct threat to the security interests of NATO members, and military action was therefore justified by the NATO charter.

Many on the left of Western politics saw the NATO campaign as US aggression and imperialism, while critics on the right considered it irrelevant to their countries' national security interests. Veteran anti-war campaigners such as Noam Chomsky, Edward Said, Justin Raimondo, and Tariq Ali were prominent in opposing the campaign. However, in comparison with the anti-war protests against the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the campaign against the war in Kosovo aroused much less public support. The television pictures of refugees being driven out of Kosovo made a vivid and simple case for NATO's actions. The personalities were also very different - the NATO nations were mostly led by centre-left and moderately liberal leaders, most prominently U.S. President Bill Clinton, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder. Anti-war protests were generally confined to the far left and Serbian emigrés, with many other left-wingers supporting the campaign on humanitarian grounds.

There was, however, criticism from all parts of the political spectrum for the way that NATO conducted the campaign. NATO officials sought to portray it as a "clean war" using precision weapons. The US Department of Defense claimed that, up to June 2, 99.6% of the 20,000 bombs and missiles used had hit their targets. However, the use of technologies such as depleted uranium ammunition and cluster bombs was highly controversial, as was the bombing of oil refineries and chemical plants, which led to accusations of "environmental warfare". The slow pace of progress during the war was also heavily criticised. Many believed that NATO should have mounted an all-out campaign from the start, rather than starting with a relatively small number of strikes and combat aircraft.

The choice of targets was highly controversial. The destruction of bridges over the Danube greatly disrupted shipping on the river for months afterwards, causing serious economic damage to countries along the length of the river. Industrial facilities were also attacked, damaging the economies of many towns. In fact, as the Serbian opposition later complained, the Yugoslav military was using civilian factories as weapons plants: the Sloboda vacuum cleaner factory in the town of _a_ak also housed a tank repair facility, while the Zastava plant in Kragujevac made both cars and Kalashnikov rifles, although in completely separate buildings and locations. In addition only state owned factories were targeted. No private or foreign owned industrial sites were bombed. Perhaps the most controversial deliberate attack of the war was that made against the headquarters of Serbian television on April 23, which killed at least fourteen people. NATO justified the attack on the grounds that the Serbian television headquarters was part of the Milo_evi_ regime's "propaganda machine". Opponents of Milo_evi_ inside Serbia charged that the managers of the state TV station had been forewarned of the attack but ordered staff to remain inside the building despite an air raid alert.

Within Yugoslavia, opinion on the war was (unsurprisingly) split between highly critical among Serbs and highly supportive among Albanians - although not all Albanians felt that way; some appear to have blamed NATO for not acting quickly enough. Although Milo_evi_ was increasingly unpopular, the NATO campaign created a mood of national unity. Milo_evi_ did not leave matters entirely to chance, however. Many opposition supporters feared for their lives, particularly after the murder of the dissident journalist Slavko Curuvija on April 11, an act widely blamed on Milo_evi_'s secret police. In Montenegro, President Milo _ukanovi_ - who opposed both the NATO bombardment and Serbian actions in Kosovo - publicly expressed fear of a "creeping coup" by Milo_evi_ supporters.

Opinion in Yugoslavia's neighbours was much more mixed. Macedonia was the only Yugoslav republic apart from Montenegro not to have fought a war with Serbia and had tense relations between the Macedonian majority and a large Albanian minority. Its government did not approve of Milo_evi_'s actions, but it was also not very sympathetic towards the Albanian refugees. Albania was wholly supportive of NATO's actions, as might be expected given the ethnic ties between Albanians on both sides of the border. Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria granted overflight rights to NATO aircraft. Hungary was a new member of NATO and supported the campaign. Across the Adriatic, Italian public and political opinion was against the war, but the Italian government nonetheless allowed NATO full use of Italian air bases. In Greece, popular opposition to the war reached 96%.

It was claimed at the time by some NATO officials that Milo_evi_ might try to spread the war to Bosnia in order to tie up NATO on two fronts. At the beginning of the war, two Yugoslav MiG-29 fighters had flown into eastern Bosnia combating NATO planes, but were shot down by NATO aircraft. In the event, Bosnia was quiet during the Kosovo war.


Criticism of the case for war

Some critics have accused the coalition of leading a war in Kosovo under the false pretense of genocide.[6] This was, in fact, no pretense at all. President Clinton of the United States, and his administration, were accused of inflating the number of Kosovar Albanians killed by Serbians.[7] Clinton's Secretary of Defense William Cohen, giving a speech, said, "The appalling accounts of mass killing in Kosovo and the pictures of refugees fleeing Serb oppression for their lives makes it clear that this is a fight for justice over genocide."[8] On CBS' Face the Nation Cohen claimed, "We've now seen about 100,000 military-aged men missing...They may have been murdered."[9] Clinton, citing the same figure, spoke of "at least 100,000 (Kosovar Albanians) missing".[10] Later, talking about Yugoslav elections, Clinton said, "they're going to have to come to grips with what Mr. Milo_evi_ ordered in Kosovo...They're going to have to decide whether they support his leadership or not; whether they think it's OK that all those tens of thousands of people were killed...".[11] Clinton also claimed, in the same press conference, that "NATO stopped deliberate, systematic efforts at ethnic cleansing and genocide."[12] Clinton compared the events of Kosovo to the Holocaust. CNN reported, "Accusing Serbia of 'ethnic cleansing' in Kosovo similar to the genocide of Jews in World War II, an impassioned President Clinton sought Tuesday to rally public support for his decision to send U.S. forces into combat against Yugoslavia, a prospect that seemed increasingly likely with the breakdown of a diplomatic peace effort."[13] Clinton's State Department also claimed Yugoslav troops had committed genocide. The New York Times reported, "the Administration said evidence of 'genocide' by Yugoslav forces was growing to include 'abhorrent and criminal action' on a vast scale. The language was the State Department's strongest yet in denouncing Yugoslav President Slobodan Milo_evi_."[14] The State Department also gave the highest estimate of dead Albanians. The New York Times reported, "On April 19, the State Department said that up to 500,000 Kosovar Albanians were missing and feared dead."[15]

The United Nations Charter does not allow military interventions in other sovereign countries with few exceptions which in general need to be decided upon by the United Nations Security Council. The issue was brought before the UN Security Council by Russia, in a draft resolution which - inter alia - would affirm "that such unilateral use of force constitutes a flagrant violation of the United Nations Charter". China, Namibia and Russia voted for the resolution, the other members against, thus it failed to pass [20][21] (PDF).

On April 29, 1999 Yugoslavia filed a complaint at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague against ten NATO member countries (Belgium, Germany, France, Great Britain, Italy, Canada, The Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, and the USA). The Court did not decide upon the case because Yugoslavia was not a member of the UN during the war.

In Western countries, opposition to NATO's intervention was mainly from conservatives and libertarians on the right, and from most of the far left. In Britain, the war was opposed by many prominent conservative figures including former UK Foreign Secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind, former Chancellor of the Exchequer Norman Lamont, and journalists Peter Hitchens and Simon Heffer, whereas opposition on the left was confined to The Morning Star newspaper and left wing MPs like Tony Benn and Alan Simpson. However, the Communist Party of Great Britain (Provisional Central Committee), a Leninist splinter-group, backed the Kosovo Liberation Army (while opposing NATO's intervention, seeing it as American-led imperialist opportunism) and support the complete secession of Kosovo from Serbia.


Consequences of the war

When the war ended on June 11, 1999, it left Kosovo in chaos and Yugoslavia as a whole facing an unknown future.

The war inflicted many casualties. Already by March 1999, the combination of fighting and the targeting of civilians had left an estimated 1,500-2,000 civilians and combatants dead. [22] Final estimates of the casualties are still unavailable for either side.


Russian Peacekeepers

The original NATO plan was to station 50,000 peacekeeping troops in Kosovo, and these would include 3,600 Russian troops. The first regiment of Russian commandos to arrive at Slatina airport, near the provincial capital of Pristina, received an overwhelmingly welcome greeting by the city's Serbian minority, and the presence of Russian troops generally was seen as the only hope for safety by the province's Serbian minority. However, it was seen as a menace by the Albanian majority, among which it was believed that the Russian military cooperated with Milosevic's operatives. Many Albanian community leaders urged for roadblocks to keep the Russian peacekeepers out. These claims were never backed up by any sort of evidence, and no accusations of any misconduct were made against the peacekeepers once they arrived. Their deployment was also originally opposed by NATO, but an agreement was eventually reached between NATO and Russia in Moscow for cooperation.

The first Russian convoy mentioned above arrived on June 12th, 1999, before other troops had arrived in the area. Russia had assured NATO that this would not happen. Massive confusion among politicians and military commanders alike ensued. Igor Ivanov, Russia's foreign minister at the time, apologized for the move and called it "an unfortunate mistake".

By the spring of 2003, Russia withdrew its peacekeepers. The Russian government was criticized of only having sent peacekeepers to save face, and once that had been done, withdrawn them due to the simple fact that funding was short. The Russian troops in Kosovo were highly esteemed by troops from other countries for their professionalism. They have also been said to be better equipped than average Russian troops - this claim would help legitimize the assertion that the Russian government was putting on a show for the west. However, the withdrawal came at a time when violence in the province had drastically reduced, and, more importantly, nearly all Serbs had fled. Both sides of the argument are legitimate.


Civilian casualties

Graves of Albanians killed by Serb security forces. [verification needed]

Yugoslavia claimed that NATO attacks caused between 1,200 and 5,700 civilian casualties. NATO acknowledged killing at most 1,500 civilians. Human Rights Watch counted a minimum of 488 civilian deaths (90 to 150 of them killed from cluster bomb use) in 90 separate incidents. Attacks in Kosovo overall were more deadly - a third of the incidents account for more than half of the deaths. [23]

The exact number of Albanian civilians killed is unclear. Some mass graves were also found in Serbia itself, on Yugoslav military bases or dumped in the Danube. The total number of Albanian dead is generally claimed to be around 10,000 although several foreign forensic teams were unable to verify the exact amount [24] (PDF). One explanation is that some of the largest mass graves were cleared before the war's end in an apparent effort to obliterate potential war crimes evidence. As of July 2001, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) had exhumed approximately 4,300 bodies believed to have been victims of unlawful killings by Serbian and Yugoslav forces in Kosovo. This is certainly less than the total number of those killed by government troops. Most importantly, there is incontrovertible evidence of grave tampering and the removal of bodies by Serbian and Yugoslav troops; between 1,200 and 1,500 bodies were destroyed at Trepca mine. [25] As of July 2001, the Serbian authorities had announced the discovery of four additional graves in Serbia with as many as 1,000 Kosovar Albanian bodies. [26]

A study by The Lancet (PDF), Vol 355, 24 June 2000, estimated "12,000 (95% CI 5500 18 300) deaths in the total population."


Military casualties and losses


Tail and canopy of F-16C shot down on May 2, 1999. Belgrade Aviation Museum, Serbia.

Military casualties on the NATO side were light - according to official reports the alliance suffered no fatalities as a result of combat operations. However, in the early hours of May 5, an American military AH-64 Apache helicopter crashed not far from the border between Kosovo and Albania.[16] The crash according to the BBC occurred about 40 miles (64 km) northeast of Tirana, Albania's capital, very close to Albanian/Kosovo border.[17] According to CNN the crash happened 45 miles (72 km) northeast of Tirana.[18] The two American pilots of the helicopter Army Chief Warrant Officers David Gibbs and Kevin L. Reichert died in that crash. They were the only NATO casualties during the war, according to NATO official statements.

There were other casualties after the war, mostly due to landmines. After the war, the alliance reported the loss of three helicopters, 32 unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) and five aircraft - all of them American, including the first US stealth plane (a F-117 stealth fighter) ever shot down by enemy fire.[19] A second F-117A was also heavily damaged, and although it made it back to its base, it never flew again.[20] Several of these were lost in accidents and not by enemy action. The Yugoslav armed forces claimed to have shot down seven helicopters, 30 UAVs, 61 planes and 238 cruise missiles, counting only those that crashed within the territory of Yugoslavia, although Yugoslav generals later admitted these claims were falsifed for local propaganda consumption.



There were up to 5,000 military casualties according to NATO estimates, while the Yugoslav authorities claim 169 soldiers were killed and 299 wounded.[27] The figure released by the Yugoslavs is considered accurate, due to the fact that the names of all casualties were recorded in a "book of remembrance". If someone's name was missing from the book, his family or friends would wonder why he wasn't listed. Therefore it is unlikely the Yugoslavs could have hidden losses that they weren't disclosing.

Of military equipment, NATO destroyed around 50 Yugoslav aircraft, of which many were old and unflyable and were intentionally placed as decoys to draw attention away from valuable targets. Two notable exceptions were the 11 destroyed Mig-29s, and 6 G-4 Super Galebs which were destroyed right in their hardened aircraft shelter when someone forgot to close the shelter doors. NATO officially claimed they destroyed 93 Yugoslav tanks. Yugoslavia admitted a total of 13 destroyed tanks. The latter figure was verified by European inspectors when Yugoslavia rejoined the Dayton accords, by noting the difference between the number of tanks then and at the last inspection in 1995. The army lost 14 tanks, 18 APCs and 20 artillery pieces.[21] Most of the targets hit in Kosovo were decoys, such as tanks made out of plastic sheets with telegraph poles for gun barrels, or old WWII-era tanks which were not functional. Anti-aircraft defences were preserved by the simple expedient of not turning them on, preventing NATO aircraft from detecting them but forcing them to keep above a ceiling of 15,000ft (5,000m), making accurate bombing much more difficult. Towards the end of the war, it was claimed that carpet bombing by B-52 aircraft had caused huge casualties among Yugoslav troops stationed along the Kosovo-Albania border. Careful searching by NATO investigators found no evidence of any such large-scale casualties.



KLA losses are difficult to analyze, and reports range from less than 1000 to more than 10,000. Difficulties arise in calculating an accurate figure, as KLA fighters dying in combat would sometimes be carried away by retreating KLA forces, and other times left on the battlefield and buried in mass graves by the Yugoslavs. Things are further complicated by the difficulty of determining who was a KLA member. For example, the Yugoslavs considered any armed Albanian to be a member of the KLA, regardless if he was officially a card-carrying member, so someone who is counted as a civilian by the Albanian side might be counted as a KLA combatant by the Serbs.


Military decorations

As a result of the Kosovo War, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation created a second NATO medal, the NATO Medal for Kosovo Service, an international military decoration. Shortly thereafter, NATO created the Non-Article 5 Medal for Balkans service to combine both Yugoslavian and Kosovo operations into one service medal.

Due to the involvement of the United States armed forces, a separate U.S. military decoration, known as the Kosovo Campaign Medal, was established by President Bill Clinton in the year 2000.



The most immediate problem - the refugees - was largely resolved very quickly: within three weeks, over 500,000 Albanian refugees had returned home. By November 1999, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, 808,913 out of 848,100 had returned.

However, much of the remaining Serb population of Kosovo fled fearing revenge attacks. Gypsies, Turks and Bosniaks were also driven out after being brutalized by Albanians. The Yugoslav Red Cross had registered 247,391 mostly Serbian refugees by November. The new exodus was a severe embarrassment to NATO, which had established a peacekeeping force of 45,000 under the auspices of the United Nations Mission In Kosovo (UNMIK). According to Amnesty International, the presence of peacekeepers in Kosovo led to an increase in the trafficking of women for sexual exploitation. [28] [29]

Most seriously, as many as 1,000 Serbs and Roma have been murdered or have gone missing since June 12, 1999. Criminal gangs or vengeful individuals may have been involved in some incidents since the war, but elements of the KLA are clearly responsible for many of these crimes. [30]


War crimes

Shortly before the end of the bombing, Yugoslav President Slobodan Milo_evi_, along with Milan Milutinovi_, Nikola Sainovi_, Dragoljub Ojdani_ and Vlajko Stojiljkovi_ were charged by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) with crimes against humanity including murder, forcible transfer, deportation and "persecution on political, racial or religious grounds".

Further indictments were leveled in October 2003 against former armed forces chief of staff Neboj_a Pavkovi_, former army corps commander Vladimir Lazarevi_, former police official Vlastimir _or_evi_ and the current head of Serbia's public security, Sreten Luki_. All were indicted for crimes against humanity and violations of the laws or customs of war.

The ICTY also leveled indictments against KLA members Fatmir Limaj, Haradin Bala, Isak Musliu and Agim Murtezi, indicted for crimes against humanity. They were arrested on February 17-18, 2003. Charges were soon dropped against Agim Murtezi as a case of mistaken identity, whereas Fatmir Limaj was acquitted of all charges on 30 November 2005 and released. The charges were in relation to the prison camp run by the defendants at Lapusnik between May and July 1998.

War crimes prosecutions have also been carried out in Yugoslavia. Yugoslav soldier Ivan Nikoli_ was found guilty in 2002 of war crimes in the deaths of two civilians in Kosovo. A significant number of Yugoslav soldiers were tried by Yugoslav military tribunals during the war.

On March 2005, a U.N. tribunal indicted Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj for war crimes against the Serbs, on March 8 he tendered his resignation. Haradinaj, an ethnic Albanian was a former commander who led units of the Kosovo Liberation Army and was appointed Prime Minister after winning an election of 72 votes to three in the Kosovo's Parliament in December 2004.

The Serbian government and a number of international pressure groups claimed that NATO had carried out war crimes during the conflict, particularly regarding the bombing of alleged dual-use facilities such as the Serbian TV headquarters in Belgrade. The ICTY conducted an inquiry into these charges. [31] The tribunal has proclaimed that it has no mandate to press charges against NATO for war crimes against civilian population.


Military and political consequences

The Kosovo war had a number of important consequences in terms of the military and political outcome. The status of Kosovo remains unresolved - formally it is still part of Serbia, but in practice the Serbian government has no say or practical influence over the affairs of the province, which is run as a UN protectorate under a UN-appointed governor. It remains an issue of considerable controversy with Kosovo Albanians continuing to press for independence, a demand which is now widely expected to become a reality in the immediate future.

In January 2006, Contact Group (US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Russia) foreign ministers met in London and issued a statement outlining their vision for Kosovo's future status. Their statement explicitly reiterated that the "Contact Group Guiding Principles of November 2005 make clear that there should be: no return of Kosovo to the pre-1999 situation, no partition of Kosovo, and no union of Kosovo with any or part of another country." The statement also clearly states that "the (status) settlement needs, inter alia, to be acceptable to the people of Kosovo." [32] (PDF) and set a target of achieving a negotiated settlement in the course of 2006.

Milo_evi_ survived the immediate aftermath of the war, but the effective loss of Kosovo was a major factor in provoking the popular revolt which overthrew him in 2000. He was subsequently arrested and taken to The Hague, where he died from natural causes in his cell, awaiting trial for crimes against humanity on 10 March 2006.

Despite the successful conclusion of the war, Kosovo exposed gaping weaknesses in NATO. It revealed how dependent the European members had become on the United States military - the vast majority of combat and non-combat operations were dependent on US involvement - and highlighted the lack of precision weapons in European armories. Some right-wing and military critics in the US also blamed the alliance's agreement-by-consensus arrangements for hobbling and slowing down the campaign.

The campaign exposed significant weaknesses in the US arsenal, which were later addressed for the Afghanistan and Iraq campaigns. Apache attack helicopters and AC-130 Spectre gunships were brought up to the front lines but were never actually used after two Apaches crashed during training in the Albanian mountains. Stocks of many precision missiles were run down to critically low levels - had the campaign lasted much longer, NATO would have had to revert back to using "dumb" bombs for lack of anything better. Situation was not any better with the combat aircraft; continuous operations meant skipped maintenance schedules and many aircraft were withdrawn from service awaiting spare parts and service.[22]Also, many of the precision-guided weapons proved unable to cope with Balkan weather, as the clouds blocked the laser guidance beams. This was resolved by retrofitting bombs with Global Positioning System satellite guidance devices that are immune to bad weather. Also, although pilotless surveillance aircraft were extensively used, it often proved the case that attack aircraft could not be brought to the scene quickly enough to hit targets of opportunity. This led to the fitting of missiles to Predator drones in Afghanistan, reducing the "sensor to shooter" time to virtually nil.

Kosovo also demonstrated that even a high-tech force such as NATO could be thwarted by quite simple tactics, according to Wesley Clark and other NATO generals who analyzed these tactics a few years after the conflict. [33] The Yugoslav army had long expected to need to resist a much stronger enemy - either Soviet or NATO - during the Cold War and had developed effective tactics of deception and concealment in response. These would have been unlikely to have resisted a full-scale invasion for long, but were probably effective in misleading overflying aircraft and satellites. Among the tactics used were:

0. US stealth aircraft were tracked with radars operating on long wavelengths. If stealth jets got wet or started to drop bombs they would become visible on the radar screens. An F-117 Nighthawk was spotted in this way and downed with a missile, although this was admittedly a lucky shot. There were rumors that a new prototype of Russian SAM could detect and hit the F-117. This would explain why the Russian foreign secretary Primakov came with a huge transport the very next day to Belgrade.
0. Precision-guided missiles were often confused and unable to pinpoint radars, because radar beams were reflected off heavy farm machinery like old tractors and plows.
0. Many low-tech approaches were used to confuse heat-seeking missiles and infrared sensors. Decoys such as small gas furnaces were used to simulate nonexistent positions on mountainsides. Scout helicopters would land on flatbed trucks and rev their engines before being towed to camouflaged sites several hundred metres away. Heat-seeking missiles from NATO jets would then locate and go after the residual heat on the trucks. Similar tactics were planned in the case of the ground invasion - covert placement of heat emitters on territory that NATO troops were to enter, tricking B-52s into carpet-bombing their own positions and causing friendly-fire incidents.
0. Dummy targets were used very extensively. Fake bridges, airfields and decoy planes and tanks were used. Tanks were made using old tires, plastic sheeting and logs, and sand cans and fuel set alight to mimic heat emissions. They fooled NATO pilots into bombing hundreds of such decoys. (though "General Clark's survey found that in Allied Force, NATO airmen hit just 25 decoys-an insignificant percentage of the 974 validated hits.")[34] However, NATO sources claim that this was due to operating procedures, which oblige troops, in this case aircraft, to engage any and all targets however unlikely they were real. The targets needed only to look real to be shot at, if detected, of course. NATO claimed that Yugoslav air force had been decimated. "Official data show that the Yugoslav army in Kosovo lost 26 percent of its tanks, 34 percent of its APCs, and 47 percent of the artillery to the air campaign." [35]
0. Bridges and other strategic targets were defended from missiles with laser-guidance systems by bonfires made of old tires and wet hay, which emit dense smoke filled with laser-reflecting particles.
0. Old electronic jammers were used to block U.S. bombs equipped with satellite guidance.
0. Yugoslav jets flew combat missions over Kosovo at extremely low altitudes, taking advantage of mountainous terrain to remain undetected by AWACS airborne radar aircraft.
Hispano-Suiza anti-aircraft cannons from the World War II era were used effectively against slow-flying drone aircraft.




0. ^ Press Statement by Dr. Javier Solana, Secretary General of NATO from NATO's website, 23 March 1999
0. ^ War in Europe, Frontline, February 29, 2000
0. ^ POWs beaten, shackled in Yugoslavia, military says, CNN, May 8, 1999
0. ^ http://www.arrc.nato.int/brochure/operations.htm
0. ^ Sergeant William Wright - B Company 9th Engineers (17 July 1999); Specialist Sherwood Brim - B Company 9th Engineers(17 July 1999); Private First Class Benjamin McGill - C Company 1st Battalion 26th Infantry (9 August 1999).
0. ^ Farah, Joseph (1999). "The Real War Crimes".
0. ^ Schlafly, Phyllis (November 19, 1999). "Numbers Game in Kosovo". Washington Times.
0. ^ Cohen, William (April 7, 1999). "Secretary Cohen's Press Conference at NATO Headquarters".
0. ^ Doggett, Tom (May 16, 1999). "Cohen Fears 100,000 Kosovo Men Killed by Serbs". The Washington Post.
0. ^ Clinton, Bill (May 13, 1999). "Speech by President to Veterans Organizations on Kosovo".
0. ^ Clinton, Bill (June 25, 1999). "Press Conference by the President".
0. ^ ibid
0. ^ "Clinton: Serbs must be stopped now". (March 23, 1999). CNN.
0. ^ Clines, Francis X (March 30, 1999). "NATO Hunting for Serb Forces; U.S. Reports Signs of 'Genocide'". The New York Times, p. A1.
0. ^ Erlanger, Steven (November 11, 1999). "Early Count Hints at Fewer Kosovo Deaths". The New York Times, p. A6.
0. ^ Officially confirmed/documented NATO helicopter losses.
0. ^ Two die in Apache crash, BBC News, May 5, 1999
0. ^ U.S. helicopter crew killed in crash in Albania, CNN, May 5, 1999
0. ^ Lambeth, Benjamin S. (2006-06-03). Kosovo and the Continuing SEAD Challenge. 'Aerospace Power Journal'. United States Air Force. Retrieved on October 30, 2006. ""On the fourth night of air operations, an apparent barrage of SA-3s downed an F-117 at approximately 2045 over hilly terrain near Budanovci, about 28 miles northwest of Belgrade- marking the first combat loss ever of a stealth aircraft.""
0. ^ Riccioni, Everest E., Colonel, USAF, retired (2005-03-08). Description of our Failing Defense Acquisition System (PDF). Project on government oversight.
0. ^ "The Kosovo Cover-Up" by John Barry and Evan Thomas, Newsveek, May 15, 2000.
^ http://www.aeronautics.ru/nws002/theobserver04.htm

Yugoslavia page

Home Page