. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Council to Weigh Russia's Bosnia Role

Everything is set for Russia's participation in international peacekeeping efforts in Bosnia except for one vital detail: The Federation Council, which must approve the deployment of Russian troops abroad, has not yet given its approval.


The Federation Council, parliament's upper house, will meet Friday to debate the issue. Igor Gladkov, a member of the Federation Council Security Committee, recently returned from a trip to the former Yugoslavia, together with Colonel-General Valery Belyayev, Air Force chief of staff, and military expert Major-General Yury Polyakov.


In an interview with Interfax this week, Gladkov said that the heads of parliamentary security and defense committees in Belgrade and Zagreb clearly supported the participation of the Russian military contingent in the peacekeeping action.


On the basis of Gladkov's report, the Federation Council Security Committee will make recommendations to the upper house of parliament. Gladkov would make no predictions as to how the Federation Council would decide the issue.


A high-ranking diplomat at the Russian Embassy in Zagreb told Interfax on Monday that Russian participation in the peacekeeping operation "is possible, but not predetermined. Everything depends on whether Moscow's wishes and interests are taken into account."


The Defense Ministry, however, is proceeding with plans to send troops to Bosnia. An informed source in the ministry told Interfax on Wednesday that plans were "almost completed" for the transport of the 1500 to 2,000 troops scheduled to take part in the peacekeeping operation.


The first contingent will set out "within days after the Federation Council has made the appropriate decision," added the spokesman. The bulk of the force will follow "tentatively by the middle of January."


The costs of transporting and deploying the force will fall entirely on the Russian federation, say analysts. This, according to Alexander Golz, political observer for the military newspaper Krasnaya Zvezda, is why the Russian contingent is relatively small.


Russia already has 1,500 troops in Bosnia, as part of the now-defunct UNPROFOR, or UN Protection Force, peacekeeping mission. These troops, said Golz, will be repatriated.


The new peacekeeping force will be composed of airborne troops from Russia's 98th and 76th divisions, according to Defense Ministry sources.


Russia's troops will form a part of a 60,000-strong multinational force under NATO command. Defense Minister Pavel Grachev will meet with U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry in Ukraine on Thursday to discuss progress in the deployment of the multinational force, Interfax reported.


The issue of Russia's participation in an international peacekeeping force in Bosnia has been problematic from the start. Although the peacekeeping operation will be controlled by NATO, Russia was adamant that its troops not be under NATO command.


To placate Russia and ensure its participation, NATO officials agreed to a formula allowing Russian troops to receive their orders from a Russian general serving under General George Joulwan, NATO commander.