Russian Ties To Bosnia


Historically and politically, the Bosnians and the Russians
are a perfect match.This history started in the middle of
the first thousand years A.D. when the tribes called the
Southern Slavs migrated into the southeast area of Europe
known as the Balkans. The Slav people as they are known,
were separated from the Northern Slavs, that is, related
Slavs in Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Russia, by the
non-slavic tribes that settled the lands of Austria and
Hungary. The Bosnians original ancestors were the Southern
Slavs. They raided areas throught the Balkans including
what is now modern day Serbia.This tribe eventually split
up, mostly for religious and political reasons but also
because the geography of the region is such that large
groups of Slavs became separated and isolated from one
another because of the difficult terrain. When religion
came to the Balkans, where you were physically had as much
to do with what religion you grew up with as other reasons.
The Serbs who were closest to the Byzantine Empire
geographically, took up the Eastern Orthodox Religion. The
peoples in what is now Croatia, Slovinia and Bosina were
infuenced by Rome and took up Roman Catholicisim. However,
the Bosnians, who were alwasys being threathned politically
by the Orthodox Christian Serbs as well as their Roman
Catholic neighbors, by the fifteenth century had made
apolitical decision to align themselves with the rising
power of the Ottoman Empire, and converted to Islam.
Russia, the country where most of the Southern Slavs came
from had accepted the Eastern Orthodox religion at around
the time the Serbs did. This religious bond between
Russians and Serbs was very strong and the two groups
supported one another for virtually their entire history up
to and including modern times. The Serbs supported the
Russians in almost all their wars and helped the Russians
gain control of part of the Eastern Mediterraen from the
Turks. This is why the Russians are deeply interested in
this area and feel they have a special role to play in the
current conflict.
The Balkans are the reason that World War I had started.
The Serbs of 1914 was as determined then, as they were for
centuries, of preserving their independence in the Balkans.
A wider war in the Balkans could risk the security of
Europe, and possibly draw Moslen nations into the war. On a
more imeadiate level, the reason for peace in Bosnia is so
urgent is because cities, roads, bridges, have been
destroyed in the conflict. A good example of this is
Sarajevo, ( a major muslim city) that was known for its
cultural mixture. It was the site of the 1988 winter
olympics which welcomed hunreds of atlethes from all over
the globe. The city is on the Bosinian-Serb border and has
been shelled by both sides in the war. However, a far more
important reason is to prevent this local war from starting
a wider confrontation that would risk the security of
Europe, and possibly draw in Moslem nations to support the
Muslims in Bosnia.
Russian soldiers are going to be among the troops keeping
peace in Sarajevo as well as in other towns in Bosnia. The
rusians are trying to improve relations with the U. S. and
are doing so by working with the U.S. on keeping peace in
the Balkans. Both President Yeltsin of Russia and Clinton
Of the U.S., have met several times over this issue. They
decide that a good way to improve rlations betwen the two
countries. Part of the debate over rusian troops betwen
Russia and the U.S. was who mwould command the Russsian
troops if they were sent. The Russians did not want teir
troops under a NATO command because they thought that Nato
was anti- Russian. Another topic of their debate was where
were the Russian troops to be deployed. The russians wnated
to be deployed in Bosnian Serb teritory, and the U.S.
wanted them deployed in Bosnian Croat territory. Finally an
agreement was reached. The Russians would send
fifteenhundred troops to Bosnia. They were scheduled to
arrive in mid-December 1995. Both sides agreed that the
Russian troops would report to their own commander, General
Leonti P. Shetsov. Shetsov had worked with Nato in the past
as well as the U.S. military and was sen as a good fit. He
however would still be technically under Nato command as it
is Nato that is overseeing the operation. Further the
Russians are contributing troops to an international
brigage that would include troops from France, the U.S. and
other countries. After much debate it was agreed that the
Russians would be deployed in the corridor that separates
eastern and western parts of Serbian controlled Bosnia. In
total close to fourthousand Russian troops will eventually
be in Bosnia. Many people have questioned whether or not a
Russian presence in Bosnia ca help bring about a lasting
peace. The signs are that it can. Before the peace treaty
was signed President Clinton was able to bring about a
cease fire. This cease fire lasted until the peace treaty
was signed. One problem was getting the Bosnian's to agree
to a cease fire while gas supplys from Russia to Sarajavo
were turned off. The American Ambasador Mr. Charles
Pickering asked officials in Moscow to turn the gas back
on. They did so and the cease fire began.

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