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
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
The Memorandum (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
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
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. 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. 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
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.(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. 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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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  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 ,
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.  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 , 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
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.
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  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
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
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. 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.
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.
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. 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." On CBS'
Face the Nation Cohen claimed, "We've now seen about 100,000
military-aged men missing...They may have been murdered."
Clinton, citing the same figure, spoke of "at least 100,000
(Kosovar Albanians) missing". 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...". Clinton also claimed, in the
same press conference, that "NATO stopped deliberate, systematic
efforts at ethnic cleansing and genocide." 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."
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_." 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."
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  (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
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.  Final estimates of the casualties are still unavailable
for either side.
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.
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. 
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  (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.  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.
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. The crash
according to the BBC occurred about 40 miles (64 km) northeast
of Tirana, Albania's capital, very close to Albanian/Kosovo border.
According to CNN the crash happened 45 miles (72 km) northeast
of Tirana. 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. A second F-117A was also heavily damaged, and although
it made it back to its base, it never flew again. 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
There were up to 5,000 military casualties
according to NATO estimates, while the Yugoslav authorities claim
169 soldiers were killed and 299 wounded. 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. 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.
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.
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. 
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.
 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."  (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.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.  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
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.")
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." 
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
0. ^ ibid
0. ^ "Clinton: Serbs must be stopped now". (March 23,
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
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.