NATO GROUND OPERATION IN KOSOVO IS LIKELY TO TAKE PLACE

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Although scenarios of possible actions of the alliance are not defined yet, their outcome is evident, that is the defeat

Inability of NATO to force Milosevic to compromise is evident. The NATO countries still stake at force in their “peacekeeping” efforts. The military-industrial potential of Yugoslavia is being gradually destroyed.. Having refused the military aid to Belgrade, Russia is unable to change the situation in principle by diplomatic means and looks helpless and pathetic. Meanwhile the NATO forces will be soon able to conduct a limited ground operation to form a “security zone” in the south of Kosovo for the Kosovo Albanians and further define the status of this territory during negotiations. Such were conclusions of the Russian military-diplomatic experts, who analyzed the NATO actions on the Balkans.

Here is what Defense Minister Igor Sergeev said on April 19: “According to our information, active preparation is going on for the ground operation of the NATO forces.” According to him, different variants of the ground operation are possible, such as the “soft” and the “hard” ones. He explained that the “soft” operation stipulates assistance to return of the refugees, if the corresponding agreement is achieved. The “hard” ground operation stipulates the combat operations of NATO forces against the Yugoslav armed forces.

Thus, the situation in the area of Balkan crisis remains extremely tense and preserves the tendency to be further aggravated. The US and NATO officials enforce the ground troops group and develop the plans of the ground operation. It is planned to move up to 8,000 servicemen to the region within the framework of the NATO’s Allied Harbor operation. Simultaneously the aerial and naval groups of NATO forces are being increased. Since April 14 Apache helicopters are being moved to Albania from the US. By the end of April their number is to be increased to 50. The information is confirmed about the accelerated training and formation of combat groups of the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) from the Kosovo Albanians and members of Albanian Diaspora in the US and some European countries. Military analysts tend to see these actions as the American intention to accelerate preparation for the ground operation on the Balkans to force the Yugoslavian leadership make concessions and agree with the NATO demands. What can be the NATO operations be on the ground? The analysts point out that the variant of the “limited ground operation” is most likely under the pretext of the “security zone” formation in Kosovo to provide for the refugees return. Evidently the “limited war” will include intensive air raids of the helicopters, fire of tube and reactive artillery of the alliance and ground troops operations. It is very likely that at first mercenaries and KLA forces will be led to the southern regions of Yugoslavia. The press already published materials about the possible use of the French Foreign Legion in the raids to Kosovo. Attack groups of the legion up to 100 men strong are being quickly formed in Macedonia, being completely composed of Slavs. It is difficult to say why it is done, but it is believed that the Slavs are good soldiers, and it will be also easier for them to come to an agreement with their akin Serbs.

The KLA is also preparing for the active combat operations. By the beginning of 1999 the KLA acquired the clear organizational structure. Besides the General Staff, headed by Jacub Krasnichi, there is also the Political Coordinating Staff in the KLA, headed by Adem Demachi, former leader of the Parliamentary party of Kosovo. The militants are divided according to the territorial principle, forming approximately nine brigades, each of them operating in the zone of its responsibility. Strict hierarchy was deeply rooted in these formations, characteristic of the clan laws of the Albanian society in Kosovo. At present there are up to 10,000 militants in the KLA. However we cannot rule out that this figure might grow. Many refugees, as well as the volunteers from the Albanian Diaspora are currently enlisting to the KLA.

What is the quantity limit of the KLA strength? While around 1 millions Albanians lived in Kosovo, theoretically the KLA forces might amount to about 100,000 people, that is, around 10% of the population. Meanwhile, according to the Chechen war experience, the number of separatist militants at the moments of the most bitter fighting of Moscow with Grozny was less than 5% of the Chechens, living in the republic. Thus, the strength of the KLA might be not more than 50,000 people. This is a significant force, but after beginning of the ground operation of the NATO forces in Yugoslavia the war will evidently acquire the guerilla character. Thus, the “classical” disposition of forces during calculation of possible effectiveness for the attackers and defenders becomes senseless under certain circumstances.

The KLA is currently heavily arming its units, getting even anti-armor missiles, which were used in late December against the Serb armored vehicles in Poduevo area. Organization of the mass media of its own by the KLA leadership also demonstrates the wish of the militants to solve the problem of the armed units separation, enforce them and acquire bigger support of the population.

Meanwhile, the total strength of the NATO ground forces group in Yugoslavia is to be defined by the objectives, which NATO sets. In addition, the quantity of NATO forces will be defined by the quantity of Albanian separatists, enlisted to the KLA. The analysts say that for a large-scale ground operation NATO has to form the ground troops group around 200,000 men strong. Along with this, the NATO command does not rule out the large-scale ground operation in Yugoslavia in the form of the frontal offensive at Kosovo from Macedonia and Albania. The experts say that considering different variants of their actions the NATO strategists have to take into account that Yugoslav President Milosevic managed to unite his people and strengthen the unity in society on the basis of the anti-American and anti-NATO attitude. Along with this, despite the air raids, the Yugoslav armed forces remain combat ready to resist to the NATO ground troops.

Defense Minister Igor Sergeev pointed out that the ground stage of the NATO combat operations on the Balkans is to start when Kosovo is completely “cleared” from the Yugoslav forces. However this is unlikely. That is why it is quite possible that the NATO intervention in Kosovo will be accompanied with active battles. Taking into account the mountain terrain of the area and the destructive consequences of the NATO strikes, we might suppose that the Serbs would transit to the guerilla methods.

Although a relatively small number of Serbs lived in Kosovo, we cannot completely rule out that the guerilla fighting of Yugoslav forces against NATO and KLA will be effective. The resistance forces will evidently be concentrated in the Serb villages. In addition we cannot exclude the deep raids of special units from Yugoslavia along the mountain paths.

A heavy drawn-out war in Yugoslavia means an absolute defeat for NATO. Already now combat operations of the alliance are not supported by many Balkan countries. They are especially concerned about the economic consequences of the conflict, The large-scale crisis around Kosovo already incurred multi-million losses on the economies of the Balkan region, which threaten to become multi-billion losses if the NATO operation is continued. Such warning was made during the international forum under the EBRD aegis, conducted in London on April 19, by representatives of the governments of Bulgaria, Romania, Albania, Macedonia, Horvatia, Slovenia and the others.

In addition the European security is threatened by the possibility of spreading of a large-scale ecological catastrophe on the continent. Combat operations in Yugoslavia can negatively influence the ecological safety of the European countries, says Director of the Russian Institute of Safe Development of Atomic Energy Leonid Bolshov.

During his press conference on April 19 in Moscow he announced that, taking into account the growing activity of hackers, trying to harm the NATO information structures, we cannot rule out a possibility of cruise missile hit on one of the nuclear power stations, located in the countries, neighboring Yugoslavia (Hungary, Romania, Slovenia and Bulgaria).

He pointed out that in this case the people, living 300-500 km from the station might suffer from radiation. With the average density of European population 100 people for a square kilometer, tens of millions of people might become victims of this “mistake” of NATO militaries, stressed the scientist.

At present the ecologists are especially concerned about the consequences of the Yugoslav oil reservoirs bombing. During the press conference it was pointed out that in the local area the air pollution by the products of oil burning already exceeded the maximum permitted norms by 100-200%. According to the scientists, benzopyrene, a cancerogenic substance of the first class of danger, generated during the oil products burning, is especially dangerous, because it is extremely stable and is capable of accumulation in the soil and living organisms,

The ecologists say that the clouds of benzopyrene and soot have already expanded to the major part of Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia and some regions of Western Ukraine, Belarus, Poland and Baltic republics.

In addition, according to them, “a huge oil spot is expanding on Danube, which has already reached Bulgaria.” The scientists are assured that if the ground operation of NATO against Yugoslavia is started, “an alarming ecological situation” in the region will only be aggravated.

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