Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Macedonia Mess Shows NATO Folly

"Those who armed Albanian separatists do not now know how to handle them."
— President Vladimir Putin

To Our Readers

Has something you've read here startled you? Are you angry, excited, puzzled or pleased? Do you have ideas to improve our coverage?
Then please write to us.
All we ask is that you include your full name, the name of the city from which you are writing and a contact telephone number in case we need to get in touch.
We look forward to hearing from you.

Email the Opinion Page Editor

As time goes by, Russia's vehement opposition to NATO's cynical 1999 war in Kosovo looks better and better.

Russia was roundly criticized when it refused to accept the U.S. pretext for launching a full-scale aerial campaign that we now know actually precipitated a sharp escalation of ethnic cleansing and other atrocities.

As a direct, albeit delayed, result of that campaign, Macedonia — a former Yugoslav republic that until now had been spared the violence that shattered the rest of the nation — is under siege by Albanian separatists.

"The danger of civil war is there; we are very close to a major conflict," says the top OSCE official in Macedonia.

Distressingly, only Macedonia, neighboring Greece and Russia seem to think that something should be done about it.

Macedonian Prime Minister Ljubco Giorgievski, who enjoyed NATO support during the Kosovo war, now blames the West for letting the guerrillas become "Europe's Taliban." U.S. troops are patrolling the Macedonian-Kosovo border through which most of the guerrillas and weapons move, so America can't convince Macedonians, Giorgievski says, that it "doesn't know who the terrorist leaders are and what they want."

Russia, too, believes the United States knows who the terrorist leaders are and what they want because the United States trained them, if numerous independent news sources are to be believed.

The Observer, for example, citing senior European KFOR officers, recently reported that the CIA secretly supported and trained the ethnic Albanian extremists now behind the insurgencies in Macedonia. These officers also accuse U.S. forces of allowing guerrillas to train in their sector of Kosovo and to smuggle men and arms into Macedonia.

It is obvious that the United States, which shoulders much of the blame for creating the crisis, has no plans to do anything about it. Officials say that "Macedonia has yet to seize the attention of the new administration."

With a rag-tag "army" of 12,000 or so troops and a few dozen tanks, Macedonia is looking for help. And with NATO unwilling or unable to use its 35,000 troops in the area, and the new U.S. president still learning geography, that duty may fall upon Russia.

Putin says something must be done, even if by force. But if Russia finds itself involved in another mountain war against Islamic rebels — this time in the heart of Europe — Washington will have no one else but itself to blame for having to be taught how "to handle" its own proxies.