In the 90s, Yugoslavia demonstrated to the whole world what a disintegration of the former Soviet Union could have led to in a somewhat different set of political circumstances: protracted and bloody civil wars broke out in the constituent parts of the former Yugoslavia during the collapse of the vertical of state power, the acute problem of refugees and the forced intervention of the world community.
In various territories and lands (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Eastern Slavonia, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Macedonia, Albania, the adjacent area of the Adriatic, etc.) a whole range of operations unfolded in 1992, in which the UN, OSCE, NATO, EU took part , WEU, as well as a number of countries as members of coalitions for individual operations.
At the same time, a number of operations had the character of forced actions (sea and air blockade of part of the territory of the former Yugoslavia, separate components of the operation in Albania, air pressure operation on the FRY, etc.). Another part of the operations had the character of preventive deployment (Macedonia). There were operations and their individual components that correspond to the classical understanding of peacekeeping (for example, the post-Dayton election organization in Bosnia under international control, etc.). Not all of these operations were conducted by the UN itself (see chapter 1 on the role of the OSCE, NATO and the WEU in individual operations), and some (the air operation to exert pressure on the authorities of the FRY) did not have a UN mandate at all. In general, the complex of operations in the former Yugoslavia and Albania introduced many innovations and changes in the practice of UN peacekeeping.
The scale and strength of the Russian contingent that took part in operations in this region (changing from 900 troops in 1992 to the maximum number in 1500 people in 1994 and slightly exceeding 1000 people at present) are significant, say, in comparison with operations in Moldova and South Ossetia (in 2000, there are 460 and 462 Russian peacekeepers there, respectively), but far from being decisive. For comparison, it is enough to mention that only the ground component of the forces of Operation SFOR made up 33400 military personnel from different countries, not including civilians.
However, in many ways, Russia's participation in operations in the former Yugoslavia has been and remains unique.
First, this is an atypical situation in which the Russian military and not only Western military "observers", but also NATO combat units, who had been trained for "big war" for decades, acted together in solving the tasks set by the UN.
Secondly, the degree of use of military force in these operations as a whole turned out to be extremely high, on average much higher than in most of all other operations of previous decades, with the exception of Desert Storm. As a result, increased requirements for military professionalism and the ability of real combat interaction of the Russian military with the military of other countries, and not only those who had previously been allies under the Warsaw Pact, worked.
Thirdly, in ethnic and historical the proximity or interconnection of individual countries with one or another warring force, a particular difficulty was the maintenance of an unbiased equidistant attitude of peacekeepers to parties to conflicts. Although the unofficial “pro-Serb” orientation of Russian peacekeepers only balanced the unofficial “pro-Croatian”, “pro-Muslim” or “anti-Serbian” orientation of some Western coalition countries, Russia as a whole does not play a nationalistic “card” in this complex of conflicts ”And takes a position regarding an unbiased intermediary.
Fourth, Russia’s cooperation with other countries and organizations in conducting operations in the former Yugoslavia left a significant imprint of the Russia-NATO controversy over NATO’s expansion and NATO’s actions without a UN mandate in the FRY in 1999. More broadly, peacekeeping in Yugoslavia, there was and remains influenced by the intersection and collision of interests of the great powers in the Balkans and in Europe as a whole.
For the first time, units and formations of Russian paratroopers were involved in the UN peacekeeping mission in Yugoslavia in 1992. At that time, there were no specially trained peacekeeping contingents in Russia (with the exception of a small group of military observers from previous UN operations that had experience only non-combat actions “under the banner of the UN”). A special Russian motorized rifle battalion for landing in Yugoslavia was formed from airborne units on the basis of the Presidential Decree "On sending Russian troops to Yugoslavia to participate in UN peacekeeping operations" and an order from the Commander of the United Armed Forces of the CIS [i]. The size of the contingent was determined in 900 man, armed with light weapons, and equipped with 150 vehicles and 15 armored personnel carriers. The battalion was formed and underwent abbreviated training and instruction in 6 weeks.
As a simple contingent structure (headquarters, staff company, five motorized rifle companies), so did light weapons and the absence of communications, reconnaissance, and reinforcement units indicated that Russia did not have adequate experience in force-based peacekeeping operations, and was preparing for "classical" peacekeeping, wherein weapon used only for "demonstration of power." But the real situation of the civil war in Yugoslavia forced even during the UNPRED / UNPROFOR operation, even before the transition to SFOR / SFOR, to change the rules of combat contact and strengthen the military strength of the contingent. The battalion requested and received from Russia another 54 modern BTR-80s, 82-mm artillery pieces, and mobile missile launchers to combat tanks and portable air defense systems. "Separation" of the warring parties required action according to the rules of a serious war.
In 1994, the 554 th Separate motorized rifle battalion was reinforced by the 629 Separate motorized rifle battalion, and the total number of Russian military in Yugoslavia reached 1500 people. on 95 armored combat vehicles.
When 15 December 1995. The UN Security Council adopted the 1031 resolution on the former Yugoslavia, the Russian contingent received a new status, changed its structure (brigade) and scale. First of all, in connection with the adoption in the Russian Federation in the same year of a new law on the participation of Russian contingents in peacekeeping operations, the question of the participation of Russian peacekeepers in a UN operation was brought up for discussion by the Russian parliament. The Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation confirmed the decision on the participation of Russia in operation [ii], and in mid-February 1996. The President of the Russian Federation, by his decree, increased the allowed number of troops to 1600 [iii].
The Russian brigade in Yugoslavia received the area of responsibility of 1750 square kilometers, which included the line of separation of the warring parties with a length of 275 kilometers. In the immediate vicinity of the Russian peacekeepers, the US brigade, the Turkish brigade, and the combined North brigade, consisting of peacekeeping contingents from Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway, and Poland, served.
Tasks carried out in Bosnia by the Russian contingent also included monitoring at five checkpoints, patrolling numerous roads and territories, reconnaissance, search and inspection of objects. During participation in SFOR / IFOR operations in 1997-1999, in which, in agreement with the UN, NATO forces played the leading role, the Russian brigade was not involved in mass battles. The loss of 4 people killed and 11 wounded occurred mainly as a result of the detonation of mines.
The issue of political importance was to build a chain of command. For “ideological” reasons, it was considered wrong to agree to direct subordination of the Russian contingent to the command of NATO structures, although it was the NATO command that, in accordance with the UN mandate, carried out the overall coordination of operations. A special military condition was agreed through diplomatic channels: the commander of the Russian brigade, General L. Shevtsov, received the status of deputy commander of the entire operation in the former Yugoslavia and reported directly to the Commander-in-Chief of the ground forces of NATO in Central Europe.
The Russian command group in the Supreme Headquarters of NATO in Europe (SHAPE) solved the tasks of not only military, but also political and diplomatic nature. Among them, in particular, the coordination of the implementation of the Dayton Peace Accords with the Bosnian military-political leadership, as well as the organization and holding of meetings of joint reconciliation commissions, which were attended by representatives of Bosnian political forces and the military leadership of Operation SFOR.
By March 1999, when the NATO air operation in the FRY that began without UN Security Council sanction led to the freezing of Russia-NATO relations and the formal withdrawal of Russian peacekeepers from an operation under the command of NATO in Bosnia, the overall result of cooperation between Russian peacekeepers and military coalition countries generally positive. The crisis was not caused by the internal factors of the development of the operation in Bosnia, but became a projection into the sphere of peacemaking of the “macropolitical” tensions in Russia-NATO relations.
Political complaints about NATO’s actions in the FRY can be summarized as follows:
The Alliance violated the UN Charter by launching a coercive operation on the territory of a sovereign state against the will of the legally elected government of the country and without the mandate of the UN Security Council;
The operation was carried out outside the zone of direct responsibility of NATO, limited, in accordance with the Washington Treaty of 1949, the territory of the member countries;
The operation was an excess of the limits of the necessary use of force, since not all the channels of political influence were exhausted;
The operation violates the prerogatives of regional organizations, because, firstly, the OSCE as the leading regional organization of collective security was pushed aside by NATO and the OSCE mandate was also absent, secondly, NATO itself never recognized itself (and was not recognized by the UN) by the regional security organization and - thirdly, operations with elements of coercive actions (bombing and blockade) belong to the exclusive jurisdiction of the UN Security Council, and not to regional organizations and agreements;
The operation is controversial from the point of view of “humanitarianly motivated intervention” being categorized as the fact of the genocide of the Albanian population of Kosovo (which could be the basis for such intervention) was not recorded and confirmed by the UN or the OSCE, and the flows of refugees from Kosovo after the start of the intervention (bombing) significantly exceeded the flow of refugees before the operation;
Finally, NATO and the Western powers set a dangerous precedent by openly ignoring the protests of Russia and the position of such powers as China and India, which, among others, spoke out in the UN against forceful intervention.
It is obvious that Russia reacted not only and not so much to events in the former Yugoslavia itself (although the bombing counteraction was consistent and was supported by public opinion inside Russia), but rather to oust Russia from the process of making crucial decisions on problems of European security (which concerned the decision to bombard the Yugoslav territory).
It should be realistic to realize that the Russian leadership has not been excluded from the use of military force in the Yugoslav conflict in general, and the recognition of the need for coercive actions, including against the government of S. Milosevic, in particular. The political problem consisted primarily of the violation by the North Atlantic Alliance (and the leadership of a number of Western powers) of the rules and procedures for making decisions on the use of force in the international community. As soon as the 11 weeks after the start of the bombing, the UN Security Council nevertheless managed to adopt an agreed resolution regarding the international operation in Kosovo and the FRY, the Russian military-political leadership insistently returned the Russian contingent to the international intervention forces (the famous paratrooper raid led by General Zavarzin from Bosnia to Pristina airport in Kosovo). Cooperation between Russia and NATO in peacekeeping was immediately unfrozen. At the same time, although the bombing as a type of influence on the Milosevic government was stopped, other coercive elements in the operation (for example, a strictly controlled embargo on the supply of arms to the parties to the conflict) remained.
The separation of the Russian contingent in Kosovo in the area of responsibility in the predominantly Albanian sector led to the difficulty of performing peacekeeping functions, partially blocking elements of the contingent by the local population. Nevertheless, Russia has returned to the number of countries actively participating in the peace process in the former Yugoslavia.
Some lessons from the complex operations in the former Yugoslavia can be summarized as follows:
There has been a certain "specialization" of various international organizations in conducting operations in conflict regions. The UN does not cope in modern conditions with the organization of military operations to establish peace (peace enforcement) if the conflict has the scale of a real civil war. For this we need a "worked out" integrated military organization. NATO involvement is assessed in the UN circles as a whole as effective and, apparently, will continue to be practiced in the presence of consensus in the ranks of NATO itself. The WEU was not able to effectively establish itself even in the “greenhouse” conditions for conducting elements of operations “under the wing” of NATO. The OSCE conducts qualified measures to restore the political infrastructure and conduct free elections in conflict regions. The UN, on the other hand, provides a general political agreement on the interests of the powers over the conflict and intervention in it, and this function (coordination of the interests of the major powers over the conflict) is becoming increasingly important.
Yugoslavia has demonstrated how the stages of deregulation of interaction between the organizations of the international community (UN. OSCE) and the great powers (the first such deregulation occurred during the conclusion of the Dayton Agreements on Bosnia outside the UN and the OSCE, the second - during the deployment of NATO in the FRY despite the position of a number of great powers) and stages of their harmonious interaction. Experience shows that, as before, in the international community, the positive involvement of the UN, the OSCE and other multilateral mechanisms in the peacekeeping process cannot be replaced by the will and strength of individual powers. As before, the international community considers the joint action of “great powers” and “great organizations” to be the norm, rather than opposing their efforts to each other.
At the same time, as a relatively new formula of interaction develops (and, apparently, will expand further) the practice of transferring operations by the United Nations to ad hoc coalitions of powers. It is expedient for Russia to develop the practice of participation in such coalitions, and apply it to develop coalition participation in peacekeeping in the CIS.
Operations in the former Yugoslavia showed the need (and the possibility) of close political interaction of wide groups of powers in real-time unfolding conflict (this is not only a relatively successful maintenance of consensus in ambiguous conditions by the NATO countries, but also the practice of agreeing decisions in ad hoc coalitions of countries who carried out operations in Bosnia, Albania, and Kosovo). This is an important example for Russia, which needs to use the mechanisms of political consultations and maintaining consensus among the CSTO countries.
[i] Order from 26 February 1992. Strictly speaking, due to the well-known hopes of preserving the unified military infrastructure of the CIS, the contingent was not at first “Russian”, it represented the entire former Soviet Union, all CIS countries, and only later in Yugoslavia began to talk about separate Russian and separate Ukrainian contingents.
[ii] Decision of the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation on January 5 1996
[iii] A year later, the “ceiling” was dropped to 1400 people, and the real number at the end of 90's. did not exceed 1340 people.