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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

NATO Tells Kosovo Not To Fear Russian Troops

PRISTINA, Yugoslavia -- NATO commander General Wesley Clark said Wednesday that Kosovo Albanians had nothing to fear from Russian troop deployment in the province.

"I think the people of these communities should be very confident that the Russian forces are part of KFOR," said Clark, who was visiting the southern Serbian province.

"They're following the same operations plan, the same rules of engagement [and] many of them will be working side by side with other KFOR forces." he added.

Ethnic Albanians have mounted demonstrations, in some towns on a daily basis, against the deployment of Russian peacekeepers.

In the western town of Orahovac, for example, residents have demanded the Dutch peacekeepers stay. Clark said "as for now, the Dutch troops remain in Orahovac."

Some 3,600 Russian troops are due to be deployed in Kosovo.

Clark said he was familiar with what he said were rumors that Russians had fought alongside Serbs against the Kosovo Albanians.

"On the other hand, I will tell you these Russian airborne units, many of them are units we're familiar with from previous work with the ... stabilization force in Bosnia.

"They tended to be very good units, they're very competent, they're very professional. They're made up of a lot of young people who are for the first time abroad."

The first group of Russian troops arrived in the Greek port of Salonica on Wednesday, en route to join the peacekeeping force in Kosovo.

A total of 410 troops and 131 various vehicles arrived on board four Russian war ships, The Associated Press reported.