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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia Offers New Peace Proposal for Bosnia

Vitaly Churkin, Russia's special envoy to the former Yugoslavia, presented a new peace initiative for Bosnia on Tuesday, four days after the new Russian parliament condemned NATO for considering air strikes in the region.

Churkin's boss, Andrei Kozyrev, meanwhile strongly rebuffed criticisms by Vladimir Zhirinovsky, accusing the ultranationalist leader of embarking on an "open attempt to push Russia towards a new world war."

Churkin said Russia was calling for an urgent top-level meeting in Geneva of the United Nations Security Council to discuss the territorial division of Bosnia-Herzegovina and for the U.N. Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali to prepare a special report on the situation.

His proposal, which included no substantive details of any new initiative, comes amid calls for NATO to use air strikes against the Serbs, who are continuing to bombard the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo.

Over the last year, the Foreign Ministry has come under public fire for supporting the Western line on the Bosnian conflict and agreeing to sanctions against Serbia, a traditional Slavic and Orthodox ally.

Russia's new State Duma on Friday voted to express its "extreme concern" about the proposed air strikes and called for the Russian president and government to "address the UN Security Council with an initiative for the lifting of sanctions on Serbia."

The motion, adopted by 280 votes to two, was a compromise formula proposed by the former Russian ambassador in Washington, Vladimir Lukin. An earlier, more aggressive motion, which called for the withdrawal of all foreign troops, including peacekeeping forces, from the territory of the former Yugoslavia, was defeated by 131 votes to 114.

Churkin said he saw "no radical contradictions" between the Duma's second resolution and the Foreign Ministry's policy and said it was only a matter of "nuances." The ministry has consistently opposed any expansion of the use of international force to resolve the Yugoslav conflict.

"I don't see any differences of principle here," said Churkin, arguing that sanctions were inflicting "broad heavy pressure" not only on Serbia and Montenegro but on their neighbors as well.

Churkin condemned all three sides in the conflict throughout his press conference, distancing himself from the thrust of Western policy which identifies the Serbs as the main aggressors.

His latest initiative suggests an attempt to steer an even course between Russia's traditional loyalties in the Balkans, as expressed by the Duma, and its new-style pro-Western foreign policy.

Zhirinovsky openly called for Russia to adopt a pro-Serb stance last Friday and condemned the government's "anti-Serbian, anti-Slavic, anti-Russian position." He said Kozyrev should change his policy within a week or resign.

Kozyrev in an interview to Interfax late Monday condemned "certain political forces," who, he said, wanted to drag Russia into a "global catastrophe" and "on this make their career, seize power."