The first echelon with the Russian military contingent's equipment and staff will be withdrawn from Kosovo on June 17th, the Contingent Commander, Major General Nikolai Kriventsov has informed RIA Novosti.
The plan of the Russian peacekeepers' withdrawal has been approved by the Land Forces Command coordinating the peacekeeping mission in Kosovo. Passing of the area over to the international peacekeeping forces is currently being prepared. It is due to happen on June 20th.
In compliance with the approved plan part of the equipment and property will be withdrawn before the departure of the first echelon, Kriventsov pointed out. Therefore, two helicopters and an Il-76 military transport plane with property have already left for Russia. The main part of the Contingent will be withdrawn in June-July. Meanwhile, Russian military men in Kosovo continue to accomplish their tasks.
Kriventsov stated that he had advised the peacekeepers' command on the plan and coordinated joint steps of its realisation with the international peacekeeping forces. According to the source, the international peacekeeping forces command took Russian President Vladimir Putin's decision to withdraw the contingent by August 1st with understanding. The Commander also believes the forces regret the withdrawal of "Russian soldiers and officers" from Kosovo.