The Russian parliament no longer sees the need for the Russian peacekeepers to stay in the Balkans, chairman of the State Duma (lower house of Russia's parliament) defence committee Andrei Nikolayev stressed in an interview with Russian journalists in Brussels.
The Russian parliamentarian was taking part in a session of the bilateral working group, The Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation - The Nato Parliamentary Assembly, which was held in the Belgian capital on March 26th to 28th.
In an answer to the proposal by parliamentary colleagues from the Nato countries to extend the mandate of its servicemen the Russian side said there were no tasks for its huge military contingent to fulfil there. Mr Nikolayev said that it was clear that the mandate of the international peacekeepers was coming to an end as there were no military tasks to solve in the region. We need another mandate, we need humanitarian missions, Nikolayev said. "Why should we make a 22,000-strong contingent fulfil the duties that are inappropriate for the military?" the head of the Duma defence committee asks. Nikolayev believes that the peacekeeping efforts should involve "specially trained paramilitary units, not the military." The Russian side, the parliamentarian said, has found "full understanding in the estimate of the situation" in Kosovo. "The criminalisation of Kosovo, its multiethnic composition - there are almost no Serbs left there, the complicated situation with Kosovo's political future, as Yugoslavia, the very constituent for which resolution 1244 on Kosovo settlement was adopted, no longer exists, were at issue." And the new state, Serbia and Montenegro, has not claimed to be Yugoslavia's successor as regards the former country's commitments.