Russians and Bosnians


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 

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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