It has the means and the possibilities for prevention of the NATO aggression in Yugoslavia
Commenting on the situation in Kosovo in his exclusive interview to the correspondent of RIA Novosti Defense Minister Igor Sergeev announced that “in case the NATO delivers blows at Yugoslavia, we will return to the “cold war”, and of course, there will be no ratification of the START-2 in the near future.”
Colonel general Vladislav Putilin, representative of the General Staff, made a stricter statement about this. He announced that the Armed Forces formed the units of permanent readiness, which “possess everything necessary for fulfillment of any order of the president or the government, regarding the current development of the situation in Kosovo”. This statement demonstrates the readiness of the Russian Defense Ministry to any development of the situation in Yugoslavia. Probably it is possible that the Defense Ministry and the General Staff develop the plans for participation of the Russian forces in the conflict between Yugoslavia and NATO, but in which capacity? As the peacekeepers? Or will the Russian forces be a separating buffer between the NATO and Yugoslavian forces? Or will they be against the NATO?
There are no answers to these questions yet, but we can hardly say that the Russian Armed Forces are quite ready for the full-scale combat operations in Yugoslavia. The flight time of majority of the Russian combat pilots equals only 33.3% of the necessary level. Combat-readiness of the mobile forces is insufficient/ For example, in 1998 the large-scale regimental tactical exercises with the firing practice were organized in the Airborne Forces only once. Only in separate districts the division tactical exercises were conducted. However Russia is unpredictable, and even in such a difficult situation the Kremlin might order to send the Russian forces to the Balkans, It is possible that this will happen if bombing of Yugoslavia is started, and the NATO forces try to intervene into Kosovo.
How will the events develop in this case? Bearing in mind the main foreign political principles of Russia, condition of its economics and the armed forces, we may try to make a prognosis of the situation. First of all, bombing of Yugoslavia automatically breaks the partnership relations between Russia and the NATO. Moscow refuses to locate its representative office in the Russian territory, and the Duma will refuse to ratify the START-2 treaty. It is possible that the diplomatic relations with the USA and other Western countries may be broken. The Russian troops will be recalled from the multinational peacekeeping forces in Bosnia. They can be moved to Kosovo, and start performing the peacekeeping functions in the region on the alternative basis with the Yugoslavian support. Second, combat operations of the NATO in Kosovo, started without the UN sanction, will stir up the international public opinion, and the countries, which condemn the US and NATO aggression in the Balkans will consolidate around Russia. These will primarily be majority of the Moslem and Arab countries. Of course, there will be the countries, pursuing the anti-American policy, and whom the USA consider as the “cradle of terrorism”, such as Iran, Iraq, Libya. In addition the neutral countries, first of all, India, China, Finland and Bulgaria, will condemn the aggression. It is possible that even Greece, a NATO member, will condemn NATO expansion. Finally, the third world countries (Africa, Latin America and so on) will be against the aggression as well.
Third, hardly anyone will look at the NATO forces in Kosovo like at the peacekeepers, and they will be considered to be occupation forces with all respective consequences. Kosovo is a native Serb land, and Serbs will defend it to the last soldier. The mountain terrain and high moral spirit of the Serbs will contribute to formation and effective functioning of the guerilla detachments, It is quite possible that the volunteers from the Slavic countries of Europe and former Soviet republics will reinforce the Yugoslav armed forces and the guerillas, like it had already happened. The war will be drawn-out, and there will be no victories in it.
Many people ask themselves: are the words of the Russian generals about the ability of the troops to operate in Kosovo substantiated by something? It is impossible to answer this question at once, but we need to say that the potential of the Russian Armed Forces is still very high. Somebody may recall Chechnya, and say that in 1994-1996 the Russian Armed Forces were defeated there. But this is not quite so. There were no combat operations in Chechnya in the classical sense. The Armed Forces tried to fight against their own people, and it is known that it is impossible to defeat them. In the XVIII th century Alexander Suvorov (famous Russian general, – translator’s note) failed to defeat Yemelyan Pugachev (chief of the great peasant’s uprising, – translator’s note), but in Italy, when he saw the enemy in the person of Napoleon, he defeated Napoleon.
The large-scale military reform was conducted in Russia. Despite the lack of money, the units of permanent readiness were formed in the Armed Forces. They are completely manned according to the authorized strength of the wartime, and are supplied with the armament and combat equipment by 100%. There are such units in every military district. They undergo combat training and possess the combat skills. Of course, they lack food and other means, but this is not the reason to say that these units are not combat-ready and ill trained.
In Russia there are enough units, which are completely manned and relatively combat-ready. There are also the vehicles for their transportation. Although they are not very numerous, but still are sufficient to organize a quick transportation of the combat-ready troops by air.
Now the Russian Armed Forces posses enough transport aircraft to transport one airborne regiment during one flight. This is not very little, and it is possible to organize two, three and four such flights. In addition, we need to bear in mind that on October 2 of 1998 President Yeltsin signed decree No. 1775 “On approval of the provisions about the military-transport duty”. According to this document, it is possible to use the necessary number of the transportation vehicles, which belong both to the legal entities and to the civil ministries, in the defense interests.
Thus, there would be no problems with transportation of the combat-ready Russian units to Yugoslavia, but so far it is not clear in which capacity they are needed there (and if they are needed there at all). If they are needed as the peacekeepers, this means not more than a division 10,000-15,000 men strong. In case Russia enters the confrontation with the NATO, huge quantity of armament and people will be necessary, but this will hardly happen, because an armed confrontation with the NATO means actually the Third World War. The Russian Armed Forces are armed with the modern missiles, perfect aircraft and air defense systems, which are equal to the analogous models of the developed countries. All them can be effectively used in Yugoslavia, but Russia and Yugoslavia can hardly win in case of the confrontation development of the situation, as well as the NATO countries. There would be no winners in a global war in the age of the nuclear weapons.
Meanwhile, besides the assistance with the people, Russia can also organize assistance of its military specialists to Yugoslavia in organization of an effective air defense, as well as supply the missiles and artillery armament. In case of the aggression Yugoslavia will be able to defend itself, and appearance of coffins with the NATO soldiers will be the best argument to prove the disastrous character of decision to solve the Kosovo problem by military methods.
Thus, the best method to set the peace in Yugoslavia is not to “rattle the saber”, but to sit behind the table of negotiations, Russia calls for such way to solve the problem, and we would like to hope that the international community will hear the voice of Russia.