News / USA

Former NATO Commander Wesley Clark: Crimea Is Not Kosovo

Wesley Clark, the former NATO commander who was in charge during the 1999 Kosovo air war, rejects any parallels between Kosovo and Crimea.
Wesley Clark, the former NATO commander who was in charge during the 1999 Kosovo air war, rejects any parallels between Kosovo and Crimea.
Arben XhixhoMike Eckel
When NATO jets attacked Serbian military targets in Kosovo in 1999, relations between the West and Russia plummeted to lows not seen since before the Soviet collapse eight years earlier.
Russia, under the presidency then of Boris Yeltsin, complained that NATO was attacking a sovereign nation, unprompted, and was setting a dangerous precedent. NATO, Washington included, said atrocities allegedly being committed against the Kosovars justified the intervention.
Since then, Russia has thrown the West’s reasoning back in its face, most recently in Ukraine’s Crimea, when the Kremlin used allegations — spurious, at best — that ethnic Russians were in danger as justification for intervening.
Wesley Clark was Supreme Allied Commander Europe for NATO when Kosovo crisis happened, and he’s regularly questioned on the justification for, and the fallout from, the attack.
In a recent interview in Washington with VOA’s Albanian Service, Clark distinguished between what happened in Kosovo and what’s happening today in Ukraine.

Watch video interview with Clark:
Crimea Is Not Kosovo, Says Former NATO Commander Wesley Clarki
VOA News
June 13, 2014 9:12 PM
Wesley Clark, the former U.S. general who was NATO commander in 1999 when NATO air strikes in Kosovo, denies any parallel between Kosovo and the Russian intervention in Crimea earlier this year. In a recent interview in Washington with VOA’s Albanian Service, he said the situation in Crimea was 'a manufactured crisis by Mr. Putin.'

VOA: “Do you see any parallel between Kosovo and Crimea?”
What Russia is doing in Ukraine is not in any way parallel to what NATO did in Kosovo because in Kosovo you had a group of people who were fighting to preserve their own culture against the Serb repression. What is happening in Ukraine has nothing to do with this. The Russian population is not under any repression in Ukraine whatsoever. Instead, what we got is a manufactured crisis by Mr. Putin who is trying to draw similarities but there are no similarities whatsoever. The only real similarity is that when people get a taste of democracy, they want more of it; they want a chance to select their own leaders, they want a government that is free of corruption, they want a chance to be treated with dignity and they want to be part of the movement of western civilization. That does have a similarity between what happened in Kosovo 15 years ago and the progress made since and the aspirations of the people in Ukraine.
VOA: How has the West reacted towards the crisis in Ukraine?
I think that what the West has to do is we have to help the government of Ukraine. It has to clean the remains of the aggression in its eastern areas, it has to develop economically, it has to follow through on the promised reforms and bring democracy and economic growth to the people of Ukraine. Ukraine is a big country. It is 45-46 million people. It has got a lot of modern industry; it also has a lot of very key resources. There is no reason for it not to be one of the leading countries of Europe. It should be, and hopefully now it will be.
VOA: How can you square that with the economic interests that the EU is having in Russia?
I think that the EU has to sort through this. The purpose of the European Union expansion is to bring stability to the East and ultimately that stability will come to Russia. There is no long term reason that Russia can’t be part of the same peaceful community of nations.  But they can’t military forces and take military action and change boundaries like this. That’s wrong!

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Comment Sorting
by: dave
June 15, 2014 4:12 AM
The Serbs in Kosovo were the ones who got oppressed by the Albanians before, during and after the war.

by: Luke Buyenovich from: Dayton,Ohio USA
June 14, 2014 7:54 PM
"Crimea is not Kosovo"Very true indeed.Attack on Serbia by the West,executed by Mr.Clark was risk free.Any western military participations in conflict in Ukraine would bring the West to humiliating defeat.Ukrainian people are suffering needlessly.Economic competition West vs East could be peaceful and beneficial to the people of Uraine.

by: Pippo from: NYC
June 14, 2014 5:31 PM
Of course Crimea is not Kosovo little wesley. You don't have a no compete mining contract with crimea and thus have no reason to bomb there.
Nor are there any al qaeda trained militants to support like there were in kosovo you joker. good luck at the gates, you'll need it.

by: Jacob KIpp from: Lawrence, Kansas USA
June 14, 2014 4:39 PM
It would have been very valuable if the VOA correspondent would have asked General Clark to clarify this sentence: "I think that what the West has to do is we have to help the government of Ukraine. It has to clean the remains of the aggression in its eastern areas, . . . Does the General Means that the "West" should "help the Government if Ukraine . . . to clean the remains of the aggression in its eastern areas?" And does this area include Crimea, or has the West simply given up Crimea to Russia. With regard to the "eastern areas" of Ukraine is the general sure that the only problem in that region is "aggression?" Could there be a domestic insurgency, which will demand more effort to win the heart and minds of people than just killing "terrorists? How we conceptualize a problem often limits the policy choices that we see.

by: kristin anders from: U.S.A.
June 14, 2014 10:25 AM
According to an Eastern Ukrainian friend of mine, the people there have always felt suppressed, and now, especially, since they were not permitted to vote in the election and the man who was elected is waging war against them. Atrocities are being committed against the citizens at this moment which western governments are not only allowing to happen but are supporting.
In Response

by: Andrey Petrov
June 15, 2014 5:39 AM
Huge number of russians like me has got relatives in Eastern Ukraine. The same thing is in Crimea. My ukrainian relatives and friends hate current nazi ukrainian government supported by US and EU politicians. Not because of Russian mass media. At first ukrainian government resisted freedom of choise at referendum. And now Ukrainian military forces bombs sities and kills peaceful civilians. That's why Russia has defeated Crimea from nazis. Putin was foreseeing such situation in Crimea.
In Response

by: Patrick Sullivan from: United States
June 14, 2014 6:11 PM
The only atrocities in Ukraine are commited by foreigners, from Chechnya & RF
In Response

by: Per from: Norway
June 14, 2014 5:04 PM
Suppressed by Janukovitsj? Who prevented them to vote? The same bandits Petrosjenko has to wipe out. Good riddance. They are a menace to all Ukrainians and a threat to peace in Europe. Help Ukraine in their fight against Vlads local and not so local thugs.
In Response

by: Dimitri Visser
June 14, 2014 4:40 PM
You should know that the opinions and knowledge of people in eastern Ukraine is influenced very heavily by the Russian news. They watch mainly Russian channels (because Russian is their native language), and listen to this news also. Russian news is telling lies to Russian people, and to the people in Ukraine watching Russian tv channels. There were even stories about the USA making camps in Eastern Ukraine, to kill Russian people with gas, just like the nazis did with the jews.

All people in Ukraine were allowed to vote! Unfortunately some people in Eastern Ukraine could not, because the pro Russian terrorists did not allow the voting to take place there. That is the real storie...

by: micheal from: nigeria
June 14, 2014 6:40 AM
Russia is showing the world that she is someone to reckon with but at the long run it may turns to doom to mother russia see what Russia behaviors is causing in south china sea

by: Giovanni from: Milano
June 14, 2014 3:22 AM
We keep silence,Putin destabilizes, destroys and kills Ukrainians who organized revolutions in 2004 and 2014 in order to be closer with us,the West,but we betrayed them. We left them alone to face fascism-like Russia to kill them.

by: jjs from: las vegas
June 14, 2014 1:03 AM
Gen Clark isn't 100% correct stating of atrocities against Kosovo population. Atrocities were committed by both sides. Muslims are not known of being soft against christians either. And again the war between Serbia and Kosovo started when Kosovo decided to separate. Serbia naturally objected because Kosovo territory historically belong to Serbia. So, Kosovo people started the war killing Serbian people in Kosovo, who objected separation. Clark is twisting the truth.

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