The Conflict Over Kosovo

The Conflict Over Kosovo: Why Milosevic Decided to Settle When He Did

STEPHEN T. HOSMER
Copyright Date: 2001
Edition: 1
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 188
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7249/mr1351af
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  • Book Info
    The Conflict Over Kosovo
    Book Description:

    This report examines the reasons Slobodan Milosevic, the then president of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, decided on June 3, 1999, to accept NATO's conditions for terminating the conflict over Kosovo. Drawing in part upon the testimony of Milosevic and other senior Serb and foreign officials who directly interacted with Milosevic, the report analyzes (1) the assumptions and other calculations that underlay Milosevic's initial decision to defy NATO's demands with regard to Kosovo, and (2) the political, economic, and military developments and pressures, and the resulting expectations and concerns that most importantly influenced his subsequent decision to come to terms. While several interrelated factors, including Moscow's eventual endorsement of NATO's terms, helped shape Milosevic's decision to yield, it was the cumulative effect of NATO air power that proved most decisive. The allied bombing of Serbia's infrastructure targets, as it intensified, stimulated a growing interest among both the Servian public and Belgrade officials to end the conflict. Milosevic's belief that the bombing that would follow a rejection of NATO's June 2 peace terms would be massively destructive and threatening to his continued rule made a settlement seem imperative. Also examined are some implications for future U.S. and allied military capabilities and operations.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-3238-6
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. PREFACE
    (pp. iii-vi)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. FIGURE
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. SUMMARY
    (pp. xiii-xxviii)
  6. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xxix-xxx)
  7. ACRONYMS
    (pp. xxxi-xxxiv)
  8. Chapter One INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-4)

    Slobodan Milosevic, then president of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY), essentially agreed to settle the conflict over Kosovo on June 3, 1999, when he accepted the NATO peace terms presented to him on the previous day by Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari and Russian envoy Viktor Chernomyrdin.

    This report examines two questions relating to Milosevic’s decision to yield: first, why he did not decide to settle earlier—say, by signing the Rambouillet Agreement or coming to terms after a few days of bombing as many allied leaders expected he would—and second, why he did not attempt to hold out...

  9. PART I WHY MILOSEVIC DIDN’T SETTLE EARLIER
    • Chapter Two HE ASSUMED ACCEPTING RAMBOUILLET TERMS WOULD ENDANGER HIS RULE
      (pp. 7-18)

      The immediate cause of the NATO decision to bomb the FRY on March 24, 1999, was Milosevic’s refusal to sign the Rambouillet Agreement establishing peace and self-government in Kosovo. The escalation of the fighting between Serb and KLA forces in Kosovo during 1998 and the looming humanitarian crisis engendered by the Serb counterinsurgency operations that drove hundreds of thousands of Kosovo Albanians into the hills energized the NATO governments and other members of the international community to seek a restoration of peace in the province. In October 1998, Milosevic, under the threat of NATO bombing, reluctantly agreed to reduce and...

    • Chapter Three HE ASSUMED HE COULD FORCE NATO TO OFFER BETTER TERMS
      (pp. 19-34)

      Once the bombing started, many NATO officials were unpleasantly surprised by Milosevic’s stubborn refusal to concede. The reason Milosevic did not yield early on was that he believed he could (1) absorb the costs of the expected bombing, and (2) eventually secure terms more favorable to Serbia than those proposed in the Rambouillet Agreement.

      While Milosevic apparently expected to be bombed, his intelligence sources and perceptions of recent U.S. and NATO behavior may have encouraged him to believe that any NATO air strikes would be of limited duration and severity.

      Perhaps because the warnings NATO had voiced earlier in 1998...

  10. PART II WHY MILOSEVIC DECIDED TO SETTLE ON JUNE 3
    • Chapter Four HE REALIZED THAT HIS HOPED-FOR LEVERAGE ON NATO HAD EVAPORATED
      (pp. 37-48)

      While a number of weeks were to pass before all of Milosevic’s assumptions could be fully tested, in the end, none bore out. Indeed, events were to show that Milosevic and his advisers had miscalculated badly. Ethnic cleansing not only did not produce the leverage the Serbs had expected but proved catastrophically counterproductive; NATO’s unity and resolve did not erode; and even Russia’s diplomatic support for the FRY dissolved at the end.

      In all respects, ethnic cleansing failed to produce the result that serb leaders had hoped would accrue from such operations. Even though it was unable to control territory or...

    • Chapter Five BOMBING PRODUCED A POPULAR CLIMATE CONDUCIVE TO CONCESSIONS
      (pp. 49-64)

      As noted earlier, Milosevic’s initial decision to reject NATO’s ultimatum regarding Kosovo stemmed from the belief that a posture of defiance would enhance his political standing among the Serbs and best ensure his continued hold on power. Serb public opinion in mid-March of 1999 was strongly “hawkish” on Kosovo, and Milosevic clearly believed it too risky to make major concessions without it appearing that he had been compelled to do so or without a significant erosion of the then-prevailing public and elite sentiment to defend the province “at any cost.”¹ According to Chernomyrdin, “Milosevic in particular” was concerned about the...

    • Chapter Six DAMAGE TO “DUAL-USE” INFRASTRUCTURE GENERATED GROWING PRESSURE
      (pp. 65-76)

      According to sources inside his government, Milosevic, by the beginning of June, was “under increasing internal pressure, especially from his closest associates, to compromise [so as] to halt the devastating bombing campaign.”¹ One source “close” to the FRY government reported that by the second week of May members of Milosevic’s inner circle had begun to “break into pro-war and antiwar camps,” with the latter faction starting to lobby for war termination. Because Milosevic seemed determined to fight on, the “antiwar” faction focused its lobbying efforts on the president’s wife and influential confidante, Mira. The lobbying said the source, “gained momentum as...

    • Chapter Seven DAMAGE TO MILITARY FORCES AND KLA “RESURGENCE” GENERATED LITTLE PRESSURE
      (pp. 77-90)

      Even though purely military targets were the primary focus of the NATO air campaign and accounted for the vast majority of the weapons expended, the destruction and damage to such targets probably did not generate the major pressure for war termination.

      Some senior allied leaders considered the Serbian military establishment, particularly the Serbian ground forces deployed in Kosovo, to be Milosevic’s key center of gravity. The destruction of these forces was seen as a means to:

      Deter and constrain the Serbian military from taking repressive action against the Kosovo Albanians.¹

      Coerce Milosevic into complying with the demands of the international...

    • Chapter Eight HE EXPECTED UNCONSTRAINED BOMBING IF NATO’S TERMS WERE REJECTED
      (pp. 91-108)

      According to Milosevic’s own testimony and the contemporary statement of senior FRY officials and close Milosevic associates, the key reason Milosevic agreed to accept the terms presented to him on June 2 was his fear of the bombing that would follow if he refused.

      The document the Finnish president, Martti Ahtisaari, presented to Milosevic on June 2 departed radically from the settlement terms Milosevic and the Russian envoy, Viktor Chernomyrdin, had discussed at their May 27 meeting.¹ Indeed, as previously mentioned, the terms being presented included two key provisions that both the Serbs and the Russians had long opposed: (1) that...

    • Chapter Nine HE PROBABLY ALSO WORRIED ABOUT THREAT OF FUTURE INVASION
      (pp. 109-114)

      Concern about the threat that a future NATO invasion might pose for his regime was probably an added factor in Milosevic’s decision to come to terms.

      Serb military leaders from the outset had been sensitive to the possibility that NATO might eventually attempt to invade the FRY at one or more points along its borders. Once hostilities with NATO appeared likely, VJ forces began to take precautionary measures against such a contingency. Defensive positions were established and strengthened along possible invasion routes, particularly along the routes leading into Kosovo from Albania and Macedonia. The buildup of defenses started at the...

    • Chapter Ten HE BELIEVED NATO’S TERMS PROVIDED HIM WITH SOME POLITICAL COVER
      (pp. 115-120)

      The terms embodied in Security Council Resolution 1244 of June 10, 1999, and the military-technical agreement between the international security force (KFOR) and the FRY and Serbian governments that preceded it met both NATO’s basic demands and Milosevic’s need to demonstrate that the FRY had gained at least some concessions in return for its absorption of 11 weeks of bombing.¹ The key operative portions of Security Council Resolution 1244 were contained in Annex 2, the agreement formally accepted by Milosevic on June 3, 1999.²

      The Security Council resolution and military-technical agreement satisfied the five conditions for a cessation of the...

  11. PART III CONCLUDING OBSERVATIONS
    • Chapter Eleven CONCLUDING OBSERVATIONS
      (pp. 123-138)

      As the preceding discussion has shown, several interrelated factors shaped Milosevic’s decision to accept NATO’s terms for war termination on June 3. Among the most important was the Belgrade regime’s failure to gain leverage on NATO through its prosecution of ethnic cleansing, exploitation of Serbian civilian casualties, attempts to impose losses on NATO aircraft and aircrews, and play of the “Russian card.” Ethnic cleansing proved counterproductive to the Serb cause in that it strengthened rather than weakened NATO’s unity and resolve; the anticipated NATO air losses never materialized; and Russia’s diplomatic support of the FRY eventually dissolved, leaving Belgrade totally...

  12. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 139-156)