Kosovo War

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Kosovo War
Part of: Yugoslav Wars
Kosovo War header.jpg
date February 28, 1998 to June 10, 1999
place Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Kosovo
Casus Belli Failure to sign the Treaty of Rambouillet by the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
output Military technical agreement of Kumanovo between NATO and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia on the basis of the adoption of Resolution 1244 in the UN Security Council, UN administration of Kosovo by UNMIK
Parties to the conflict

Uck logo1.pngUÇK Albania Croatia NATO

Yugoslavia Federal Republic 1992Yugoslavia Federal Republic of Yugoslavia


Agim Çeku
Hashim Thaçi
Wesley Clark
Javier Solana

Slobodan Milošević
Dragoljub Ojdanić
Nebojša Pavković
Vladimir Lazarević

Troop strength
a maximum of 60,000 KLA fighters and 200,000 NATO soldiers 114,000 soldiers
20,000 police officers

10,527 Albanian fatalities (1998–2000)

2,170 Serbian fatalities (1998–2000)

The Kosovo War (also known as the Kosovo conflict , Albanian  Lufta e Kosovës , Serbian Косовски сукоб Kosovski sukob ) was an armed conflict in the Yugoslav wars for control of Kosovo from February 28, 1998 to June 10, 1999. The operation of NATO lasted from March 24, 1999 as the day of the first air strike to June 9, 1999, the day of the settlement in the military negotiations.

The reason for the attack of NATO in the Operation Allied Force was the failure to sign the Treaty of Rambouillet by the Serb President Slobodan Milosevic . The main official goal of NATO was to force the Slobodan Milošević government to withdraw the army from Kosovo and thus prevent further Serbian human rights violations , such as the Račak massacre , in the future. The official goal of Yugoslavia was to protect the Serb minority in Kosovo and to ward off what it saw to be interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign state.

The parties to the conflict were the Liberation Army of Kosovo (UÇK), the Yugoslav Army and Serbian law enforcement agencies, and from 1999 the NATO armed forces under the leadership of the United States (USA).

The mostly ethnic Albanian population was a province of Serbia within the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia , which at that time consisted of Serbia and Montenegro .


First phase of conflict

The entire violent conflict over Kosovo began earlier and can be divided into two phases. It was an armed internal conflict between the UÇK ( "Liberation Army of Kosovo" ), an Albanian paramilitary organization which fought for the independence of Kosovo, the Serbian-Yugoslav army and the Serbian law enforcement agencies of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

Second phase of conflict

The second, intergovernmental phase of the conflict began on 28 February 1998 and ended on 10 June 1999. As of March 24, 1999 attacked the NATO in Operation Allied Force , the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia from the air, and continued to intermittently over 1,000 aircraft one. The military clashes between the Yugoslav armed forces and the UÇK rebels, which were logistically supported by Albania, also continued.

War destruction

During the entire conflict, but especially in 1999, hundreds of thousands of Kosovar residents were on the run . Around 650 localities were damaged or destroyed, including historically valuable buildings. In Serbia, in addition to the targeted bombing of government buildings, industrial plants, objects of the transport, telecommunications and energy infrastructure as well as all military installations , the massive air strikes by NATO destroyed hundreds of other buildings as collateral damage, including historically valuable ones.


The total death toll from the bombing of Serbia is estimated at 3,500; around 10,000 people are said to have been injured.

War costs

The costs of the war are estimated by a Bundeswehr study at 45 billion German marks (DM): military costs of NATO: approx. 11 billion DM, costs of humanitarian aid: approx. 2 billion DM, war destruction in Yugoslavia: approx 26 billion DM; further economic costs: approx. 4 billion DM, military costs of Yugoslavia: approx. 2 billion DM. The follow-up costs were put at 60 to 600 billion DM.


In total, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), almost 825,000 refugees returned to Kosovo after the end of the war.

Controversial positions

The Kosovo war was controversial: NATO attacked the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia without having a UN mandate for it and without attacking a member country and thus triggering the alliance of NATO.

The supporters described the Kosovo war as one of the first " humanitarian war missions " and justified it as a measure to protect against further human rights violations by the Yugoslav security forces .

The Serbian government complained about secessionist tendencies among large parts of the Albanian population of Kosovo and invoked the right to fight the UÇK, which has been operating with guerrilla methods since 1997, on the territory of Serbia .



In 1877, the Vilâyet Kosovo was founded as a province (administrative unit) of the Ottoman Empire . It covered a larger territory than the present-day area, including large parts of what is now North Macedonia . In 1878 Serbia and Montenegro gained independence at the Berlin Congress , while Kosovo and Albania remained in the Ottoman Empire . In 1910 an armed uprising broke out by Albanians against Ottoman rule in Kosovo, which over the following years expanded into what is now Albania. During the two Balkan Wars (1912/1913) Serbia annexed Kosovo and Albania became independent. After a brief hiatus under the sovereignty of the Austro-Hungarian army during the First World War , the area remained under Serbian control, first as part of the Kingdom of Serbia , then in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia . The German invasion of Yugoslavia in April 1941 led to the collapse of the Yugoslav state. Kosovo and parts of Macedonia were united with Albania, which was already under the rule of fascist Italy.

In 1945 Kosovo became an Autonomous Province within the Republic of Serbia in the Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia (or from 1963 Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia ). An idea of ​​a Balkan federation targeted by the Yugoslav head of state Josip Broz Tito and negotiated with Albania in particular , for which Tito had promised to unite Kosovo with Albania, failed because of Josef Stalin . Yugoslavia was the first socialist country and was able to escape the influence of the Soviet leadership while Stalin was still alive and received economic support from the West, which contributed to the country's economic boom.

Tito tried to strengthen weak ethnic or religious groups against the large population groups. In order to prevent Serbian overweight in the new state, the "autonomous provinces" Vojvodina and Kosovo were split off from the Republic of Serbia. Until 1948 there was an open border, Albanian immigration to Kosovo was specifically promoted, the Albanians were subsidized to the detriment of the Serbs.

The Yugoslav state, which propagated the slogan “brotherhood and unity” (bratstvo i jedinstvo) , was never able to fundamentally resolve the conflicts between the ethnic groups. With the end of the economic boom in the mid-1960s, all republics began to complain that they were disadvantaged compared to the others. In the 1960s, Adem Demaçi was considered a leading figure in the Albanian resistance movement. Until 1966, the Albanian population was largely excluded from national equality. By gradually decentralizing by means of constitutional amendments in 1967 and 1974, the Yugoslav leadership under Tito tried, in some cases successfully, to reduce tensions between the ethnic groups in the country by balancing out the nationalities , but the shift in power from the central to the republics and provinces also resulted to a strengthening of their own interests and a weaker willingness to cooperate. In 1967 the autonomy status of the province renamed from "Kosovo and Metohija" to "Kosovo" was almost equal to that of the six Yugoslav republics. This extraordinarily extensive autonomy of Kosovo (as well as Vojvodina ) was confirmed in the constitution of 1974 and meant extensive self-government. From now on, the two autonomous provinces were federal bodies with equal rights alongside their affiliation with Serbia. The fact that they were not also elevated de jure to republics should prevent even further independence and, in the case of Kosovo, rapprochement with Albania. Already in April 1968 the leading Kosovar-Albanian communist Mehmet Hoxha demanded the republic status for Kosovo with reference to Montenegro. In 1968 there were demonstrations by Kosovar Albanians in several cities demanding republic status for Kosovo. One demonstrator died during the forceful use of the police to bring them to an end. There was a tendency towards a reversal of the situation and discrimination in Kosovo against the Serbs, although this did not reach the extent of the earlier discrimination against the Albanians. In the Slavic population in Kosovo, however , the emancipation process of the Albanians triggered a majority of skepticism and uncertainty. When in 1971 the so-called “ Croatian Spring ” came to the most serious crisis with a nationalistic background during Tito's lifetime, in which demands were made up to and including the Croatiannational state ”, there was dissatisfaction in Serbia that the Serbs in Croatia did not enjoy autonomy, although they formed a higher proportion of the population there than Albanians and Hungarians in Serbia. As early as 1976, the Serbian leadership demanded, albeit not publicly and without representing nationalist positions, a constitutional amendment to expand the powers of the Serbian Republic vis-à-vis the provinces, but this was sharply criticized in the other republics and especially in the provinces.

The conflict escalated after Tito's death

Social development in Yugoslavia in the 1980s and 1990s is characterized by a severe economic crisis, high unemployment and debt, some of which had their origins in Yugoslavia's last phase of growth in the 1970s. Its own economic difficulties were exacerbated by the decline in economic support from the West after Western interest in Yugoslavia waned in the late 1980s with the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact . The considerable population growth of the Albanian ethnic group in Kosovo, in combination with the inheritance law comparable to the real division , led to a fragmentation of the lands and to an inhibition of productivity in the agricultural sector. In other sectors, too, the high population growth of Kosovo offset economic gains through the growth of the unemployed and “unproductive” part of the population. The economic gap with the rest of the country grew increasingly. Average income had fallen from 48 percent of the level in Yugoslavia in 1954 to a low of 33 percent in 1980. In order to hide the unemployment rate, which rose from 18.6 to 27.5 percent between 1971 and 1981 , young people were encouraged to pursue an academic education which, however, was not adapted to the economic situation, so that a high proportion of academics had little chances on the job market received, which contributed significantly to the unrest in the spring of 1981. In 1990 the unemployment rate reached 40 percent.

The mass demonstrations in Kosovo and the harsh reaction of the Yugoslav authorities eventually triggered the Yugoslav crisis. Until the late 1980s, this conflict remained the central conflict of Yugoslavia, to which others were added, and which initiated a process of disintegration that led to the break-up of Yugoslavia in the 1990s. The individual republics and provinces of Yugoslavia largely rejected responsibility for the crisis and were increasingly competing for the scarce financial resources.

The fact that Kosovo, as a Serbian province, played a central role in sparking social and national trouble spots can be seen as closely related to the overall Yugoslav situation. With the rotation principle of eight representatives from the republics and provinces, Tito had developed a sophisticated system of balance of power in the multi-ethnic federation. He countered the Serbian and Croatian claims to power in Bosnia-Herzegovina with the formation of a nation by the Bosnian Muslims. In order to weaken the Serbs, he had strengthened the two Serbian provinces of Kosovo and Vojvodina. Soon after his death, however, the dispersing forces began to outweigh the cohesive ones.

Whether or to what extent a hasty European - especially German - policy of recognition from 1992 towards Slovenia and Croatia then led to a tightening of ethno-nationalist policy and the spread of the war to Bosnia and Herzegovina is the subject of fierce controversy.

Nationalist polarization in Kosovo until 1992

After Tito's death in May 1980 of the strengthened as Yugoslav head of state, the position of the Albanians in Yugoslavia and had narrowed the Serbs, the political leadership of Yugoslavia went on one in the rotation principle reigning Bureau on which the republics and autonomous provinces consisted of eight representatives .

1981: Ethnographic starting position in Kosovo at the time of increasing nationalistic polarization

In 1981 ethnic Albanians in Kosovo demanded republic status for the province within Yugoslavia during various protests. After the first student protest in Pristina against the quality of the cafeteria food, during which displeasure was expressed against the general economic situation, especially among the students, and which could be quickly resolved by the police, it came a few weeks later, also in other cities, to serious and Increasing nationalist unrest among Albanians, which was violently suppressed by the Yugoslav security forces, resulting in numerous deaths and arrests. The Yugoslav government imposed a state of emergency on Kosovo for a few months . The majority of the demonstrators seem to have called for Kosovo's status as a republic, with small but influential groups known as “enverists” at the University of Pristina playing an important role in organizing the protests on a sustainable basis. They described themselves as supporters of Enver Hoxha , the CP chief of Albania. In order to achieve their goal of a state without Serbs, armed struggle seemed pointless to them until 1989, especially since Kosovo was not ruled by Serbians. In the 1990s, however, some of them took part in establishing the UÇK . The Yugoslav leadership located the masterminds of the events in Albania and saw the demonstrations as the result of a “ counterrevolutionaryagitation controlled from Tirana , but did not publicly analyze the motivation of the rebellion of the students and young academics who were under the conditions at the university Pristina and poor job prospects suffered. In 1982 the demonstrations were again accompanied by riots.

The unrest and its suppression contributed significantly to a polarization of the ethnic groups of Albanians and Serbs in Kosovo and led to a nationwide strengthening of nationalisms in Yugoslavia. The Yugoslav state presidium criticized the emerging nationalist voices and strongly condemned chauvinist views of Albanian and Serbian writers, but only hesitantly addressed the poor economic situation for both ethnic groups, high unemployment and the tense social climate as areas of conflict. On the other hand, the political leadership also saw a failed educational policy, the use of textbooks and the employment of educators from Albania as responsible for the situation and criticized the inefficiency of the police apparatus, which was not able to end the uprisings at an early stage. As a result, members of the Serbian minority increasingly moved to the Serbian heartland. However, the conflict continued to smolder.

In 1983, on the occasion of the funeral of Aleksandar Ranković, the Serbs held the first nationalist mass rally in Kosovo after Tito's death. Ranković, former head of the State Security Service UDB-a , had been Yugoslav interior minister from 1946 to 1953 to enforce Serbian interests in Kosovo by force and prevent the implementation of the Albanian rights of autonomy, but was deposed by Tito in 1966. In the perception of large parts of the Slavic population in Kosovo, the deterioration in neighborly and inter-ethnic relations in Kosovo coincided with his dismissal in 1966. In 1983, thousands of Serbs protested against the high degree of autonomy granted to the Albanians in the Yugoslav constitution of 1974, which exposed them as an ethnic group to the threat of being pushed out of Kosovo by the Albanians.

In 1986, after a petition against "Albanian nationalism and separatism " was signed by 2000 Serbs, a group of around 100 Serbs moved from Kosovo to Belgrade and complained to the leadership of Serbia and Yugoslavia about ongoing discrimination and the difficult living situation of the Serbs in Kosovo. Following the pattern of this “march to Belgrade”, many marches were organized in the period that followed and made the media the focus of reporting.

Out of dissatisfaction with the situation in Yugoslavia, Serbian scientists wrote the SANU memorandum between 1982 and 1986 , in which they called for greater consideration of Serbian interests. The Kosovar Albanians were expressly assigned to blame for the identified plight of Serbia, by lamenting a "genocide of the Serbs in Kosovo". Slobodan Milošević , party chairman of the Union of Communists of Serbia since 1986 and President of the Republic of Serbia from 1989 , used the national reservations to expand its own power and to systematically strengthen Serbia within Yugoslavia.

Organized mass demonstrations (“meetings”) since mid-1988 in Vojvodina, Serbia and Montenegro, such as on November 19, 1988 with 350,000 to 1.3 million participants in Belgrade, created an increasingly nationalist public pressure and became a key feature of politics in 1989. In this context, in October 1988, in addition to Kosovar-Serbian, Kosovar-Albanian party functionaries Fadil Hoxha , Azem Vllasi and Kaqusha Jashari were removed from their offices and politicians who were loyal to Milošević were replaced in order to be able to implement the intended constitutional amendment to downgrade autonomy. Kosovar Albanians organized strikes and demonstrations against the deposition of politicians, demanding that the 1974 constitution be retained.

However, with the “ Meeting of the meetings ” on February 26th, 1989 in Belgrade, there was a huge mass demonstration with media presence, at which a rigorous approach in Kosovo was demanded. Mass protests by the population led to the overthrow of the political leadership in the Serbian Autonomous Province of Vojvodina on October 5, 1988 and on January 11, 1989 in the Yugoslav Republic of Montenegro, which was particularly badly affected by mismanagement . Politicians close to Milošević took the lead there.

In February 1989, the Serbian parliament approved additional provisions for the Serbian constitution, which gradually restricted the autonomy of Kosovo. There were violent protests against this, including a hunger strike by miners in Trepča, followed by a general strike and solidarity rallies with the striking miners. As a result of the protests, a state of emergency was imposed on the province of Kosovo on March 1, 1989 and troops were deployed. In this context, the parliament of the province of Kosovo approved the de facto dissolution of the province's autonomy on March 23, followed by civil war-like unrest, which was bloodily suppressed, with 140 people allegedly killed , according to Amnesty International . After the University of Pristina closed and the Albanian associations closed, thousands of Kosovar Albanians emigrated because of their social discrimination.

In the summer of 1989 the economic situation improved significantly in terms of industrial production, exports and debt repayment. But inflation , which directly affects the population, could not be dampened, which led to strikes. In September 1989 the economically better off Slovenia enshrined in its new constitution the right to leave the Yugoslav state association. The reasons discussed in the press were that Slovenia on the one hand wanted to protect itself from constitutional changes like those made in Kosovo and on the other hand was not interested in helping to finance Serbian politics in Kosovo without having a say in this. As a result, the tensions between Slovenia and Serbia escalated from December 1989 into an economic war .

In July 1990 Slobodan Milošević had the parliament and government of Kosovo dissolved as part of the so-called anti - bureaucratic revolution .

Organized Kosovar Albanian mass demonstrations in Pristina in March 1991 were brutally suppressed. According to the historian and chairman of the Anglo-Albanian Association , Noel Malcom , "thousands [...] were arrested, possibly hundreds were killed". In September 1991, after a secret referendum held by the Albanian side, the “ Republic of Kosova ” was proclaimed, which was only recognized by Albania. In 1992 the Kosovar Albanians elected the writer and pacifist Ibrahim Rugova , who called on his ethnic group to passive resistance , as president of their republic. The parliament, which was also elected, could not meet; so that the government appointed by Rugova had to carry out its official business from exile.

Development and consequences of the Yugoslav wars

Parallel to the situation in Kosovo, which for a long time still appeared to be relatively stable, the brief Slovenian war and the multi-year wars in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina took place during the break-up of Yugoslavia , accompanied by extensive ethnic cleansing and war crimes such as the Srebrenica massacre .

The EC , the CSCE / OSCE and the UN had not ultimately resolved to deal with the conflict parties and the armed conflicts and not established itself as a peace-making instances.

A turning point came when the USA intervened in the conflict of the Bosnian War and with it NATO , which had got into an orientation and legitimation crisis after the end of the Cold War and was trying to give itself a new field of security policy. In contrast to the EC, the USA clearly committed to the Serbian side when it came to assigning blame. The high level of stringency in its threats and execution of military force against the Bosnian Serbs gave the USA a stronger reputation as an intervention power with assertiveness.

Examples of this strategy, a political solution to bring the conflict by massive military intervention, are after the Srebrenica massacre in 1995, and agreed with the UN air strikes of NATO ( Operation Deliberate Force ) Serbian Bosnian against troops that the Dayton Agreement led . The components of threat of violence, quick and decisive action, unequivocal determination of a culprit in the conflict and American dominance became a paradigm of Western intervention in the Yugoslav crisis. With the beginning of the escalation in the Kosovo conflict in 1997, the West quickly resorted to this intervention paradigm to allegedly solve the crisis. However, the conditions of the conflict in Kosovo were very different in many areas from those in Bosnia and Herzegovina. What weighed particularly heavily was the fact that NATO acted in Kosovo as a self-appointed and unauthorized intervention force without a mandate from the UN Security Council . Since there was no legitimation under international law, a new doctrine of “ humanitarian intervention ” was created. Accordingly, NATO justified its war in breach of international law with reference to a moral obligation to avert an impending " humanitarian catastrophe ".

Development in Kosovo from 1996

Most Kosovar Albanians boycotted the elections to the Serbian parliament in September and October 1997; there were serious clashes with the Serbian police in Kosovo. In the presidential and parliamentary elections of the "Republic of Kosova" in 1998 Rugova was confirmed as president. Their peaceful resistance in Kosovo seemed increasingly unsuccessful for the affected Kosovars, in contrast to the struggle of the Bosnians and the Croats against the militarily superior Yugoslavia, or against regional Serb warring parties supported by it, in which the West had finally intervened after long hesitation. Bosniaks and Croats were also granted territories and state independence from Yugoslavia in the Dayton Treaty , while little changed in Kosovo.

In 1996 and 1997, armed attacks on state authority facilities in the Serbian province of Kosovo, which were attributed to militant Albanians, increased significantly. In 1996 the UÇK , headed from Switzerland, took over responsibility for attacks which at that time the majority of Albanians believed to be provocations of the Serbian administration. The underground organization UÇK maintained connections to “western” governments from an early stage and was also active in so-called “ human rights organizations ”. The leading UÇK representative Shaban Shala, who traveled to Albania in 1996 together with another senior UÇK representative, Azem Syla , to meet with British, US and Swiss intelligence officials, was also a leading member of the Council for the Defense of Human Rights and Freedom ". In Kosovo, the KLA apparently relied on a loose association of local units, mainly in the Drenica region and in the Đakovica region .

In the spring of 1996 the KLA began to turn to armed struggle and carried out operations in Kosovo against state institutions and the civilian population. With attacks like on a Serbian refugee home in February 1996 and on Serbian cafes, it spread terror among the civilian population through acts of violence in order to achieve political goals, following the pattern of terrorist organizations. Since 1997, the KLA has also taken action against alleged and actual collaborators in the population. In February 1996, when almost 16,000 Serbs displaced from Croatia were settled in Kosovo or - mostly against their will - housed in refugee camps, the LKÇK also carried out bomb attacks on Serbian refugee camps. On November 28, 1997, the Albanian national holiday, the KLA appeared in public for the first time at the funeral of an Albanian teacher who had died in unexplained circumstances.

In the German Constitutional Protection Report 1998, the UÇK was classified as "operating terroristically in its home country".

Domestic armed conflict

The final violent phase of the Kosovo conflict from the end of 1997 onwards was neither understood nor described by the Yugoslav leadership or by other governments as a civil war . The UÇK was initially viewed by both the Yugoslav government and the Western side as a terrorist organization, but was later treated and promoted as an equal negotiating partner, particularly at the instigation of the USA.

The internal armed conflict in the Serbian Autonomous Province of Kosovo can, however, also be viewed as a civil war , the development of which began around November 1997 and which, through the intervention of other states with the first NATO air strikes on March 24, 1999, turned into an interstate and mainly War carried out on the territory of Yugoslavia has passed over, even if NATO has not officially declared it. According to this point of view, the leadership of the KLA has consistently adhered to the principles of civil war in its tactical orientation from the start.

Conflict between the KLA and the Yugoslav state in 1998

Human Rights Watch and the Society for Threatened Peoples document the following process:

From January 1998 the clashes intensified. This preceded attacks by the KLA on Serbian police stations and state facilities, in which four Serbian security forces were killed.

On February 28 and March 1, 1998, militarily equipped Serbian police forces advanced into the villages of Likošane and Čirez in the area around Drenica , which was considered a stronghold of the UÇK and was practically under the control of the rebels before the deployment. The attacking Serbian forces were armed with army helicopters and armored vehicles and took the villages under constant fire before using their forces in house-to-house combat. 25 Kosovar Albanians and four Serbian police officers were killed during fierce firefights.

After the KLA under its local leader Adem Jashari repeatedly attacked Serbian police forces, Serbian police forces went on the counter-offensive from March 5-7 and attacked Jashari at his residence in Donji Prekaz. 58 members of the extended family were probably killed under resistance. Adem Jashari was also killed. Two Serbian police officers were killed on March 5. At the same time, other villages in the Polac region, Ternavc, Morine, Vojnik and Mikushnice were fired at with heavy weapons, including cannons and grenade launchers. At least six Kosovar Albanians died under unknown circumstances in the nearby village of Lausa.

In the meantime, on March 31, 1998 , the United Nations passed resolution 1160 of the UN Security Council on an embargo against Yugoslavia in order to force the Yugoslav government to give in or at least to hold talks. In addition, in the aforementioned resolution, the UN Security Council demanded from Yugoslavia, among others, that "the units of the special police must be withdrawn" and that the "action against the civilian population" cease. The European Union imposed sanctions accordingly.

On May 25, at least nine Albanians are said to have been executed by Serbian police in Lybeniq, a village near Pejë. On May 31, a task force of the special forces of the Serbian police, estimated at around 300 men, attacked the village of Novi Poklek in Drenica. Ten men (ethnic Albanians) were abducted. One man's death was confirmed; the others are still missing today. Police reportedly set fire to and burn down over 20 houses.

From mid-June the war broke out in central Kosovo. In July 1998 the UÇK began its first major offensive, an attack on the city of Orahovac . On July 19, at least 42 people were killed during the fighting and 40 more are still missing. The rumors that emerged about executions and mass graves were not confirmed. The UÇK called for a general fight against “Serbian rule”. In mid-July the fighting over Mitrovica and Prizren intensified . On July 14, a Serb troop deployment was observed in the south in the Opoje region on the border with Macedonia. At the end of July, the Serbian troops finally launched a major offensive in central Kosovo.

On August 24, 1998, the UN Security Council declared its concern about the "fierce fighting in Kosovo, which is having devastating effects on the civilian population" and called for an immediate ceasefire. He expressed concern that "with the growing number of displaced people and the approaching winter, the situation in Kosovo could develop into an even greater humanitarian catastrophe."

According to reports, 22 civilians were executed by members of the KLA in Klecka village on August 27. As of September 9, it was reported that the bodies of 34 people, both Serbs and Albanians, were found in a lake near the village of Glodjane. It is very likely that they were killed by UÇK forces.

Meanwhile, in Resolution 1199 on September 23, 1998, the UN Security Council sharply condemned the “excessive use of force” by the Serbian military and police forces, calling it a “threat to peace”. In addition, the UN Security Council called on "the leadership of the Kosovar Albanians to condemn all acts of terrorism", and stressed that "all parts of the Kosovar Albanian ethnic group must pursue their goals exclusively by peaceful means." Allow "humanitarian organizations" and "other envoys access to Kosovo". However, he refrained from ordering violence against Yugoslavia to prevent human rights violations.

Under international mediation, the Serbian government agreed to a de facto ceasefire in October, which led to the Kosovo Verification Mission.

Establishment of the Kosovo Verification Mission

In parallel to the military clashes, diplomatic efforts to resolve the conflict developed, also to implement the resolutions of the Security Council. NATO threatened air strikes and authorized its General Secretary Javier Solana to carry out military actions against Yugoslavia ( Activation Order on October 12, 1998). At the same time, the Balkan Contact Group, consisting of the USA, Russia, Great Britain, France, Germany and Italy, called for ultimate direct negotiations between the Serbian government and representatives of the Kosovar Albanians.

Under this pressure, on October 13, the Serbian government agreed to a de facto ceasefire and signaled that it would comply with UN Resolution 1199, which called for the withdrawal of heavy weapons and a large part of the paramilitary police force. Furthermore, the refugees should be able to return home and the process should be monitored by a 2000-strong international OSCE observer commission . The agreement was made between the Serbian President Slobodan Milošević and the US special envoy Richard Holbrooke (Holbrooke-Milošević agreement).

The establishment and deployment of the international observer commission is known as the Kosovo Verification Mission (KVM) and was decided on October 25, 1998 by the Permanent Council of the OSCE . The details of the mission were previously regulated in the Agreement between the OSCE and Yugoslavia of October 16, 1998. The KVM should have a maximum of 2000 unarmed observers.

The goals were as follows:

  • Monitoring of all conflict parties in Kosovo to ensure compliance with UN resolution 1199.
  • Improving communication between all conflict parties and humanitarian organizations
  • Monitoring the freedom of movement of humanitarian organizations
  • Preparation and supervision of free elections
  • Preparation of reports to the OSCE and the UN Security Council as provided for in resolution 1199

On October 16, 1998, three weeks after the federal election , the German Bundestag approved this action by NATO against Yugoslavia and the involvement of the Bundeswehr in possible air strikes with a large majority in a special session. Of the 584 MPs present, 503 voted for the Kosovo mission. The PDS was the only parliamentary group to reject the application.

Based on the experience of French blue helmet soldiers being taken hostage by Bosnian Serbs in the Bosnian War in 1995, one of the main concerns of the sending states was the security of the observers. The NATO Council therefore ordered plans for a reaction force to quickly evacuate the KVM envoys from Kosovo in the event of an emergency. On November 13th the plan of operations was decided; the reaction force was called the Extraction Force (EXFOR). On November 19, the German Bundestag approved German participation in EXFOR. For this purpose, a reinforced company of the Bundeswehr was planned, which was stationed in Tetovo (Macedonia). On December 12, 1998, the entire force reported operational readiness.

The Holbrooke-Milošević agreement contained another component in which Yugoslavia agreed to allow unarmed aircraft, manned or unmanned, in its airspace. In this context, in November 1998 the German Bundestag approved the deployment of a drone battery with the CL-289 reconnaissance drone (also stationed in Tetovo ).

The Holbrooke-Milošević Accords reduced the level of violence and most internally displaced people returned home as a result; During the break in the fighting, the KLA occupied many positions that had been vacated by the Serbian troops relocated as part of the agreement. According to General Klaus Naumann , the KLA played an unfortunate and provocative role in this phase.

After the Treaty of Rambouillet failed to come into effect, the Kosovo Verification Mission was evacuated to Macedonia on March 20, 1999. Parts of the mission remained in Macedonia and Albania and were used to work with refugees and to investigate human rights violations. By resolution of June 8, 1999, the mission was dissolved and replaced by the "OSCE Task Force".

Status of negotiations December 1998

Serbian proposal for the cantonization of Kosovo from December 1998

The conduct of negotiations by the Kosovar-Albanian side remained inconsistent and uncoordinated in December and was viewed by the international negotiators as a problem for the negotiations that had stalled in mid-December 1998. After the US efforts to identify key persons in the KLA for the start of negotiations were viewed as having failed, Wolfgang Petritsch chose Hashim Thaçi as a contact person to involve the KLA in the negotiations.

During this phase, a move by Zoran Đinđić , chairman of the Democratic Party of Serbia (DS), to cantonize Kosovo triggered discussions, which was presented to the EU special envoy Petritsch on December 16, 1998. The basis was an approach to a sustainable division of the province instead of division, conceived by Dušan Bataković and worked out with Kosta Čavoški and Milomir Stepić for the Belgrade Institute for Geopolitical Studies. All Serbian-populated areas were to be grouped into five cantons based on the ethnic composition and distribution of the population in Kosovo determined by the 1981 census , supplemented by a few smaller exclaves . Administration as multi-ethnic units was planned for the larger cities.

The Albanian side rejected the proposal for cantonization, rejected the plan to allow the province to remain within Serbia, and saw in this the danger of a division of Kosovo. The international community also described the plan as not being feasible in this form.

Course of the conflict in 1999

In January 1999 the fighting flared up again in Kosovo. On January 8, the KLA carried out a raid in Dulje near Shtime , in which three Serbian police officers were killed and one wounded. On January 10, the KLA attacked a police patrol in Slivovo, killing one policeman. The so-called Račak massacre of January 15, 1999 received special media attention . Over 40 Albanians were killed in the village under circumstances that have not yet been clarified. On January 29, an incident occurred in Rogovo in which a policeman and 24 men of Albanian ethnicity were killed.

Refugees reported that more than 60 Kosovar Albanians, including 20 members of the Popaj clan and 25 members of the Zhuniqi clan, were killed by Serbian security forces in Bela Crkva on March 25, 1999. According to reports, 40 Albanians were said to have been killed in Velika Krusa one day later. Between April 1 and April 4, security forces also killed at least 47 people during a forcible displacement operation in Djakovica .

Treaty of Rambouillet

The treaty talks that have been ongoing in Rambouillet Castle since February 6, 1999, through the mediation of an international contact group dominated by NATO member states, which were conducted by the Yugoslav leadership and the Kosovar Albanians on the signing of the narrowly defined draft treaty interrupted on March 19, 1999. While the delegation of Kosovar Albanians finally signed the unsatisfactory paper presented to it on March 18, 1999 under pressure - according to which Kosovo should receive comprehensive autonomy within Serbia, but remain under Serbian sovereignty , the KLA disarmed and NATO troops in Kosovo should be stationed - the Yugoslav delegation refused to sign after the "invitation" had been introduced into the last draft version at very short notice, the content could not be changed and without a corresponding UN mandate, NATO troops with a strength of 30,000 men both in Kosovo and to be implemented throughout the FR of Yugoslavia. The full civil and criminal immunity of NATO and NATO personnel as well as the free and unrestricted use of the entire Yugoslav infrastructure by NATO should be granted.

Situation reports before the start of the attacks

On March 22, 1999, OSCE observers were withdrawn from Kosovo because of expected NATO attacks.

Partial acceptance of the contract and final rejection by Yugoslavia

On March 23, the Yugoslav side, after talking to the special envoy Richard Holbrooke, accepted part of the Rambouillet paper, but continued to reject Appendix B, which provided for the stationing of a NATO peacekeeping force in Kosovo and the supply of this force via Yugoslav territory , this in an uncontrolled manner and without the participation of the Yugoslav government, including replenishment deliveries on Yugoslav territory. The corresponding Appendix B consequently spoke of “to maneuver”. Both NATO and the Albanian delegation insisted on the presence of NATO troops in Kosovo on the grounds that they should not trust the assurances of the Yugoslav government.

According to a quote from Henry Kissinger, the Serbs' rejection of the so-called "invitation" of 30,000 NATO troops to Yugoslav territory in the draft treaty was foreseeable and, despite existing options for resolving the conflict, served as a legitimation for the subsequent "negotiations" by Rambouillet, which actually acted as an ultimatum Bombing of Yugoslavia by NATO.

Horseshoe plan

The horseshoe plan was cited in the spring of 1999 by the then German ministers Joschka Fischer and Rudolf Scharping, among others, to justify the Kosovo war against what was then the rest of Yugoslavia . In an interview with Der Spiegel, Rudolf Scharping referred to the alleged plan of operations Horseshoe , which proves that an "ethnic cleansing" of Kosovo in the event of NATO failure to intervene "would be with the same brutality and less international attention, perhaps a little more slowly, but all the more more thorough ”. Scharping alleged that implementation of the alleged Horseshoe Operational Plan had begun before the NATO air strikes and, in March 1999, had resulted in over half a million displaced persons.

NATO military intervention in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia

War events

Operation Allied Force begins on March 24, 1999

Wesley Clark, NATO Commander-in-Chief in the Kosovo War, at a meeting on May 9, 1999 at Aviano Air Force Base

The option of military intervention in Kosovo has been pursued by NATO since 1998. In preparation, military aerial exercises were held over Albania and Macedonia in June 1998 and units of the Marines were brought to Albania for exercises. The plans for the air strikes were completed by NATO members in September 1998. On October 13, 1998, the North Atlantic Council authorized NATO Secretary General Javier Solana to issue the activation order for air strikes. They were intended for a breakdown in the talks between Milošević and Holbrooke. The US Air Force B-52 bombers, which were already waiting in the air for the attack order, were ordered back on October 13, 1998 at the last second.

In the course of March 1999, information about an impending air strike by NATO continued to accumulate. The air and naval forces of NATO had taken their positions, the American fleet carrier association led by the USS Theodore Roosevelt was ordered from the Persian Gulf to the Adriatic Sea and the OSCE observers at the KVM mission withdrew from Kosovo on March 20. An attack on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was now imminent. Russia, which had worked on a peaceful settlement to the end and was Serbia's most important ally, was informed of the impending air strikes on March 24th. The American President Bill Clinton informed Boris Yeltsin about the beginning and the aims of the war in a letter and a lengthy telephone conversation. The Prime Minister of Russia, Yevgeny Primakov , who was on his way to Washington on March 24 , returned to Moscow immediately when US Vice President Al Gore informed him by telephone that air strikes on Yugoslavia could also take place during Primakov's visit.

On the evening of March 24, 1999, NATO Secretary General Javier Solana and NATO Commander in Chief US General Wesley Clark announced air strikes against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The NATO air forces began from about 20 clock with attacks against targets of Serbian air defense in Pancevo , Belgrade , Pristina , Novi Sad and Podgorica . This attack involved cruise missiles fired from submarines in the Adriatic Sea and from B-52 bombers and fighter planes launched from various bases.

The Bundeswehr also participated in the air strikes from day one. For them, the Kosovo War was the first combat mission since it was founded in 1955. The German Air Force participated with 14 reconnaissance and electronic combat reconnaissance aircraft of the Tornado ECR (10 units) and Tornado Recce (4 units) of the Einsatzgeschwader 1 from the Italian air bases in Piacenza and Aviano . The ECR tornadoes flew 428 SEAD sorties . Among other things, over 200 AGM-88 HARM missiles were used against enemy radar positions. The Luftwaffe did not suffer any losses of its own. However, some CL 289 drones used for reconnaissance purposes were lost, presumably due to enemy flak . The frigate " Rheinland-Pfalz (F 209) " was stationed in the Adriatic and later replaced by the destroyer " Lütjens (D 185) ".

Russia immediately criticized the NATO air strikes and threatened military countermeasures if the conflict escalated. An ongoing military support from Russia to Serbia through several transport aircraft with heavy military equipment was thwarted by the revoked overflight rights over Romania and Bulgaria and an intervention by the authorities in Azerbaijan.

United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan declared on March 24th that the UN Security Council had "primary responsibility" for maintaining peace and security. "This is expressly recognized in the North Atlantic Treaty (NATO Treaty)". Without criticizing the NATO air strikes on targets in Kosovo and the rest of Yugoslavia, Annan expressed his “deep regret” that despite all efforts the Yugoslav government had insisted on the rejection of a political solution. “It is tragic indeed that diplomacy has failed. But there are times when the use of force in the pursuit of peace could be legitimate. "

Mobilization of the Yugoslav Army (VJ)

Due to the attacks, the Yugoslav Army ( Vojska Jugoslavije ) was partially mobilized on March 24th and a state of emergency was declared that evening. In particular, the air defense (RV - Ratno Vazduhoplovstvo and PVO - Protiv Vazdužna Odbrana ) was set up on a counter-defense and the only relevant fighter squadron, the 127th LAE (fighter squadron) with its ten modern MiG-29 “Fulcrum” interceptors of the practically obsolete Air Force called into action and distributed in tandem to the military airfields in Batajnica (Belgrade), Golubinci , Lađevci (Kraljevo), Niš , Ponikve and the aircraft cavern in Slatina-Pristina . All units of the Yugoslav Army and military equipment were moved to safe military facilities or distributed to the territory of the country. After Tito had fortified military objects built all over the former Yugoslavia during the Cold War, the Yugoslav Army had numerous bomb-proof underground caverns , bunkers and depots. Most of the military bases that were destroyed in the course of the NATO air strikes had long been evacuated by the VJ, which put the strategic potential of a single air war in doubt. Nevertheless, this remained the dominant military doctrine of the western military alliance in the Kosovo war, even if Tony Blair in particular no longer ruled out the option of a ground offensive against the VJ at the end of April.

In order to achieve a strategic reinforcement of the position in Kosovo against NATO and the allied UÇK rebels in this situation and to fend off a possible ground attack, the General Staff and the commander of the 3rd Army Nebojša Pavković decided on the late evening of March 28, 1999, a of the strongest units of the 1st Army, the 252nd Motorized Brigade, in complete secrecy from Kraljevo to Kosovo and to support the units of the Pristina corpus under Vladimir Lazarević there. The column of the large convoy, 60 km long, consisted of heavy artillery, tanks and troop carriers. The brigade could be moved unnoticed by NATO aerial reconnaissance across the railway line (the railway bridges were only bombed at the beginning of April) within four days to Kosovska Mitrovica and Lipljan . The camouflage of the convoy, which was hidden in the numerous tunnels of the railway line during the day, as well as bad weather prevented its discovery. This enabled the VJ to take a strategically favorable starting position on the ground and to drag NATO into an unforeseen and longer conflict.

Refugee camp in Albania in June 1999 east of Kukës.

After the start of the bombing, several hundred thousand people (460,000 to Albania alone), mostly Kosovar Albanians, were expelled from Kosovo by Yugoslav military and police units or fled from the effects of the war. They mostly sought refuge in the neighboring countries of Albania and Macedonia. The reason given by the German Defense Minister at the time, Rudolf Scharping , for the bombing, that there was a Serbian plan aimed at driving out the Albanians (from the German side Horseshoe Plan , from the Serbian side called "Potkova" according to western information), was never publicly proven aroused ongoing controversy over statements about the war within NATO. Also for the incident in Račak , presented by the OSCE Head of Mission William G. Walker as the “massacre” of the Serbs of unarmed Kosovar Albanian civilians, thus as evidence of an “ethnic cleansing” intention according to the alleged horseshoe plan and for the attack by the NATO was used as a justification, there have been strong doubts as to the objectivity of the allegations against the Serbs, particularly as a result of the statements made by Helena Ranta , head of a forensic investigation team. To this day, the expulsion of the Albanians during the war is controversial, but the effects of the influx of refugees caused by the NATO bombing cannot be denied.

On March 31, three US soldiers (Cpt. Peter Lamp, Airman Miles, AFC MC Grom) came under the control of the Yugoslav army in the border area between Kosovo and Macedonia. They were released a few days later. On April 7, Yugoslavia closed its borders with Albania and Macedonia and drove the Kosovars who had just been displaced back inland.

Ground fighting at the Morina and Košare border posts

Ruins in the valley of the White Drin near Morina (2001)

The UÇK had been driven from its positions in neighboring countries by the VJ and was planning to invade Kosovo from Albania on April 9th. Fighting between the UÇK and the VJ took place in particular at the border posts Morina and Košare in the mountainous region of the Prokletije , located in the confusing mountainous area . The fighting between April and especially in May constituted the most severe ground fighting in Kosovo.

The planning of the UÇK-Košare offensive was closely coordinated with NATO staffs and aimed at providing both logistical and tactical support for the American units stationed in Albania and the NATO air force. When it was revealed that an accidental NATO attack on positions supposedly still held by the VJ near Košare caused heavy losses for the KLA, the coordination of the offensive by NATO became widely known.

The VJ suffered the heaviest losses of the war in the fighting, but did not allow the UÇK to penetrate deeper across the border into Kosovo through continuous reinforcement, several counter-offensives and the most severe defensive battles. Since the mountain region could not be reached with heavy equipment, the fighting was mostly fought by the infantry. An attempt by the VJ to operate with tanks in the dense mountain forests was primarily intended to have a demoralizing effect, but was largely ineffective from a military point of view.

Overall, the VJ fended off a further advance that was successful beyond the actual border post and thus controlled the entire territory of Kosovo until June 10th.

Strategic air war by NATO

The NATO air war was originally only planned for a few days and the targets for the attacks were organized according to a certain scheme. There were first, second and third categories depending on the type of target and the planned escalation of the air strikes. Types one and two corresponded to the military goals, the third category to the goals of civil infrastructure. Initially, NATO's air strikes were only aimed at targets of the first and second category. But since Milošević made it clear early on that he would not give in to the violence of the air force without further ado and that his army was ordered to take cover early, NATO decided relatively soon to bring about an escalation and also to attack targets in the civilian infrastructure.

Within the NATO chain of command there were major differences from the beginning, which were not only considerable among the individual NATO members, but also led to serious disagreements within the military structures and also on a personal level. Communication between the United States Secretary of Defense William Cohen and the operation in chief, Wesley Clark , was characterized by a bad personal relationship, and Clark had considerable adversaries within his own chain of command in his Air Force Chief Michael Short and the British Commander Sir Mike Jackson Regarding strategy and tactics , which even led to the refusal of orders and in the most critical situations of the war could only be resolved through repeated intervention at the highest political level.

Integrated air defense of the VJ

Anti-aircraft missile S-125 Neva of the Serbian Army

The integrated air defense (PVO) of Vojska Jugoslavije consisted of the 250th missile brigade and the fighter squadron of the Yugoslav Air Force. The VJ only had obsolete military equipment, but large numbers of them. These included 24 S-75 , 16 S-125 and 60–80 2K12 Kub units. The operationally most important missile divisions consisted of six mobile divisions with mobile 2K12-Kub and the five divisions with semi-stationary S-125 batteries arranged as a ring around Belgrade (Batajnica, Jakovo, Mala Vrbica (Mladenovac), Zuce and Pančevo).

The VJ air defense operated on the lessons learned from the tactical mistakes in the sudden elimination of the Iraqi army's air defense in the first Gulf War . These had been equipped with similar weapon systems. In order not to lose the radar systems and missile batteries with AGM-88 HARM missiles in the first days, as was the case with Desert Storm , all air defense batteries were evacuated from the known garrisons and distributed across the country. In addition, the VJ only switched on the radar systems irregularly and only for a short time. But this in turn prevented the VJ from getting an overview of the air situation. The limited use of the radar systems led to a constant race to activate their own weapons systems between the PVO and the NATO SEAD missions.

The task of switching off the distributed missile batteries and the selectively acting air defense of the VJ came, as Admiral Leighton W. Smith emphasized, to the attempt to "dig up potatoes one at a time". Daniel J. Murphy (1922–2001), a former Vice Admiral of the 6th Fleet, also confirmed that this did not succeed: “We have never neutralized their integrated air defense (IADS). We were no safer on the 78th day than on the first. ”On the other hand, as a result of this tactic, the defenders could only shoot down two NATO planes.

On the first day of the air strikes, the VJ's air defense remained practically inactive; on the second day, ten Kub missiles were fired. In the later phases, missiles were repeatedly launched on NATO aircraft from the 2K12 Kub systems, which were distributed over the entire territory. This led to the fact that the NATO planes chose their flight routes in such a way that they were outside the effective range of the 2K12 Kub systems. Barrage with anti-aircraft cannons was primarily used to defend individual targets .

During the 78 days of the air war, 75% of the semi-mobile S-125 and S-75 anti-aircraft missile systems of Vojska Jugoslavije (VJ) were destroyed. In addition, 40 of the 52 command and communication facilities of Vojska Jugoslavije were either destroyed or badly damaged. Thus, the VJ's air defense ceased to exist as a networked air defense and the individual air defense batteries no longer had an early warning and had to act autonomously. Of the 25 kub mobile batteries, only three were turned off by the end of the fighting. The presence of VJ surface-to-air missiles hampered NATO operations, even if the antiquated missile systems from the 1970s did not pose a serious threat to modern combat aircraft. A total of 266 2K12 Kub and 175 S-125s were fired by the PVO of the VJ by June 2, 1999. Ultimately, almost a third of all NATO missions were deployed to suppress air defense. Of a total of 38,000 attack flights, 12,200 were of the PVO.

Belgrade was mainly defended by divisions armed with S-125 Neva-M. These anti-aircraft missiles had a range of around 15 km and a maximum combat height of around 18 km. A modification to the Soviet P-12 radar is said to have spied out the flight routes of the stealth bombers for the first time. Due to the partially intact air defense around Belgrade during the entire operation, NATO was forced to maintain the SEAD missions at all times and to use stand-off weapons that were launched outside the range of the S-125 Neva batteries.

When, on March 27, over the village of Buđanovci 50 km northwest of Belgrade - for the first time ever - a stealth bomber of the type F-117 "Nighthawk" from the third division of the 250th missile brigade in Jakovo with a Soviet surface-to-air missile S-125 Neva was shot down, the VJ's air defense achieved a far-reaching tactical success that changed the operational approach of the NATO air force and permanently tightened the security rules for the attacks. From now on, stealth bombers could only fly with escort, and the SEAD missions to destroy enemy missile and radar positions made up a large part of the entire air operation, which prevented the aircraft from fighting their actual targets. The pilot of the downed F-117A was rescued by special forces of the US Air Force on the night of the launch . The aircraft wreck is now in the Air Museum of the City of Belgrade. After analyzing the aerial battles in Yugoslavia, the F-117A was ultimately mothballed, which is not least due to the fact that it cannot use GPS-controlled weapons systems.

The highest ranking officer of the VJ who died in the war was Ljubiša Veličković, former commander of the VJ air force. He died in an attack on a PVO position on May 30, 1999. Rumors that this happened in connection with the alleged installation of a modern battery for the Russian S-300P (SA-10 Grumble) were never officially confirmed.

Diplomatic efforts

The mediation efforts of Ukrainian Foreign Minister Borys Tarasjuk and his counterpart, Defense Minister Olexandr Kusmuk in Belgrade ended on March 27 . On April 22, the Russian special envoy Viktor Stepanowitsch Tschernomyrdin had fruitless talks with Slobodan Milošević . On May 6, the foreign ministers of the G-8 countries presented a peace plan. On May 14, Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari started negotiations on behalf of the European Union.

Air strikes on civil infrastructure facilities

Destroyed transmission mast near Novi Sad

While at the beginning of the NATO air campaign the air defense as well as the command, control and communication centers of the VJ were the primary targets of the air strikes, NATO changed tactics due to political pressure within the tense alliance to bring about a quick end and took action also aimed at targets within the centers of large cities, although the aircraft had not succeeded in disabling the Serbian command and control centers and the air defense remained active until the end of the war. This forced the NATO bombers to adopt the paradoxical approach of not operating below 5000 meters and thus forfeiting a large part of the precision of the weapon systems used. Another particular problem was the notoriously bad weather in spring, which prevented the success of many missions. To deceive NATO, the VJ also used dummies of artillery guns and tanks and had built “ Potemkin bridges” out of wood to disguise the real crossings.

On the first night of the war, NATO bombed several Serbian chemical and petrochemical plants in the large chemical combine in Pancevo , a suburb of Belgrade . Large amounts of toxic and carcinogenic substances were released into the water and air. The plumes from the burning factories enveloped Pancevo in a cloud of poison. It consisted of a caustic and poisonous mixture of hydrogen chloride , vinyl chloride , sulfur dioxide and phosgene , which is best known for its use as a lung weapon in the First World War ( see also Grünkreuz ). Doctors are said to have advised pregnant women to have an abortion and to avoid pregnancy for two years because they feared malformations in children. During the nights of bombing, the poison concentrations were sometimes so high that Ursula Stephan (then chairman of the Federal Government's Major Accidents Commission ) spoke of “chemical warfare with conventional weapons”.

The first major attack on an important inner-city object was in the night of April 22nd to 23rd in the building of the Serbian Broadcasting Corporation (RTS) on Aberdareva Street in Belgrade. 16 civilians were killed and television broadcasting was interrupted for a few hours. The next major attack in Belgrade took place on the night of April 29-30 on the buildings of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Yugoslavia and the already damaged building of the Federal Police. The Belgrade television tower was also destroyed in this attack , as it served the "opposing machinery of oppression". According to Amnesty International, 19 people died in the attack; the attack was also legally controversial within NATO.

In May and June, the NATO attacks escalated, which were no longer hindered by bad weather. Meanwhile, NATO also aimed primarily at the power supply in Serbia. On the night of May 2nd or 3rd, US warplanes also used BLU-144 / B graphite bombs against the capacitors of substations in Serbia for the first time, causing a short circuit in the high-voltage network. Further operations took place against the thermal power plants Nikola Tesla in Obrenovac and in Kostolac . The attack in Kostolac caused the collapse of the electrical energy system in Serbia. Belgrade, the whole of Vojvodina , all cities of the Morava region, Niš , Kragujevac , Smederevo , Valjevo and other cities as well as parts of the Republika Srpska remained without electricity . Many cities also had no water due to accidents.

Damaged Ministry of Defense in Belgrade

On the night of May 7th and 8th, the buildings of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Yugoslavia and the Federal Ministry of the Interior were bombed again. Four GPS- controlled bombs from a B2 bomber hit the Chinese embassy in New Belgrade . Four embassy staff were killed and four seriously injured, leading to a serious crisis in relations between the United States and China. The "Jugoslavija" hotel was damaged and one guest died. Another attack with graphite bombs on the thermal power plant in Obrenovac and several switching stations damaged the power supply system and the whole city remained without electricity.

Battle of the Paštrik

The Albanian Army mobilized its own tanks in May 1999, which, as a diversionary maneuver, carried out a mock attack against the Drim Valley
In preparation for the operation, NATO had razed the VJ's advanced border post in Gorožup at the beginning of May with A-10 and AC-130 ground combat aircraft.
Two US B-52s on May 26, 1999 on a combat mission from Fairford, Great Britain, against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
General Wesley C. Clark and General John W. Hendrix in briefing on June 19, 1999. Hendrix commanded Task Force Hawk , which was transferred from Albania to Skopje after the Kumanovo Agreement was signed.

In the fight against the VJ in Kosovo, NATO changed its tactics. Since there were only a few cruise missiles left in Europe at the time, NATO primarily used the F-117A to combat point targets. According to General Richard Hawley of the United States Air Force, the JDAM bombs were also in short supply at this time , so that more conventional free-fall bombs were used. Between May and June, B-52 bombers attacked targets in Kosovo with conventional free-fall bombs and JDAM bombs. In a concentrated attack by a B-52 squadron on positions of the Serbian security forces on Mount Paštrik near Prizren, there should have been considerable losses, according to NATO spokesman Jamie Shea .

The UÇK offensive was prepared by special forces of the US Army and the Royal Army a month and a half before it began. The UÇK was equipped with weapons for this purpose and trained for the offensive by the Americans and British as well as by the secret services of the two countries as well as private companies. She was also supported by the 2nd Albanian Army, which had provided training centers in camps in Heshlan and other near the border. The coordination of the offensive was directed by the 2nd Albanian Army from its operational center in Kukës. John W. Hendrix , commanding general of the US special brigade Task Force Hawk in Albania, judged the KLA to be a strong formation under the circumstances, reinforced by veterans from the Croatian and Bosnian wars , and experienced commanders. Around the Paštrik, depots and bases for the offensive were prepared on the Albanian side, the Norwegian army also built a field hospital here, which was led by Norwegian forces. The bases for the operation were the villages of Pogaj, Kishaj and Cahan.

The VJ was informed about the preparations. The leading officer on the Yugoslav side was Major General Vladimir Lazarević , commander of the Pristina Corps. Subordinate to him was Colonel Božidar Delić , commander of the 549th Motorized Infantry Brigade in the Prizren region. Lazarević had the brigade strengthened in order to be able to cover the routes of the UÇK with extensive artillery. These included some M-87 Hurricane multiple missile launchers. These use missiles with cluster munitions and are suitable for combating area targets. The VJ had reinforced the Albanian villages of Gorožup, Planeja, Šeh mahala, Milaj, Djonaj and Binaj to form front bases and set up the front command posts there to control the border line. Through these villages the VJ had therefore taken up strongly developed positions opposite the Albanian border, which shielded the hinterland from Prizren as the closest major city. Due to the topography - the border runs in an impassable area - the VJ was able to concentrate on defending these few border crossings. Some of these positions were made bombproof. The Drim Valley was covered on both sides by VJ artillery. A week before the start of the operation, the Albanian Army moved field artillery and rocket launchers to Kukës, and NATO prepared the attack using heavy AC-130 Specter gunships. Fortified border positions on the Paštrik were under fire by AC-130 Specter. The UÇK's destination was Prizren, the second largest city in Kosovo. General Hendrix moved a battery of 155 mm self-propelled M109 self-propelled howitzers and a brigade with multiple missile launchers of the type M270 MLRS from Task Force Hawk in positions on the Paštrik.

The offensive started in the morning hours of May 26th. Tanks and field artillery of the 2nd Albanian Army supported the advance with a fictitious advance in the Drim Valley. Three tanks of the Albanian army were switched off by the VJ right at the beginning on Albanian territory, the other tanks then turned around. However, the diversionary maneuver had no effect: the VJ had already expected the actual attack on Gorožup, as it was informed of the movements and preparations of the KLA. The VJ responded to the artillery volleys of the Albanian Army with heavy artillery from their positions around Prizren, Dobruste, Zur and Vrbnica. Four UÇK brigades with a total of 6,000 men stood ready on the Albanian side to advance across the Paštrik. Reinforced by 14,000 soldiers from the Albanian regular army, they had full logistical support for the Albanian regular armed forces.

As of May 26, 1999, the VJ at Paštrik had 400 soldiers on the front line. They were the 53rd and 55th border battalions of the 549th Motorized Brigade of the VJ, whose commander Božidar Delić had a total of 14,000 soldiers for the border section between North Macedonia and Albania. By the morning of May 27, the 549th Motorized Brigade had increased the front line to 1,200 soldiers. The UÇK's advance into the borderline had driven three wedges twice 500 m deep and once 1,000 m deep. The wedges in the mountainous terrain had left large gaps. After the failed attempt to advance into Serbian territory via Košare, the Yugoslav Army was well prepared to advance through the strategically important notch in the Drim Valley. The border here was completely mined; two battalions with multiple missile launchers from the Oganj M-77 stood ready to reinforce the 549th Brigade. The 549th Motorized Brigade had also received two missile detachments with SA-6 Gainful for use against the A-10. The 549th Motorized Brigade brought 70 kg mines into position between the wedges of the UÇK. With their range of 300 m, they would have prevented any further advance of the KLA in the following. The UÇK offensive thus got stuck in the forests and the mountainous terrain, and none of the villages could be reached. The VJ's artillery remained an insurmountable obstacle to the KLA's advances, despite the constant efforts of NATO to attack their positions with A-10 ground combat aircraft. Only the summit of the Paštrik remained in the hands of the UÇK. It is true that General Wesley Clark had given his officers the strategic order - “This mountain will not be given up. I will not allow the Serbs to be on the mountain. We will pay for this hill with American blood if we don't help the KLA to hold it. ” -, - the VJ was about to retake the summit - but because of its suspended position, holding it would have been nonsensical: Positions there would have been from NATO can be bombed at any time. A tactical advantage from his possession did not exist for the VJ.

Delić decided to defend positions below the summit. The presence of the UÇK at the summit made it impossible to bomb neighboring VJ positions with strategic bombers without hitting the allies themselves. The KLA's position on the exposed summit also made it an easy target for the VJ artillery. As a result, the summit was soon littered with corpses, the smell of putrefaction soon made it impossible to stay near the summit, and the VJ took up positions further away. How bitter the resistance of the VJ at the Paštrik was, was expressed by the emblematic slogan of Božidar Delić, who, during the violent infantry attack on the 31st, forbade a commander to withdraw from the front positions with the answer: There is no retreating, Serbia is behind . This slogan spread to all participating VJ troops on the Paštrik and to this day it is the general expression of the battle in the public consciousness of the Serbs.

NATO decided to carry out heavy bombing on the Paštrik when it wanted to save the UÇK's Arrow offensive from complete failure. A total of 24 sorties of the strategic bomber fleet were flown. Six B-52s and two B-1B were used. These had dropped 1,300 bombs containing 350 tons of explosives . At the same time, A-10 carried out 56 attacks against VJ positions near the border between May 26 and June 10. A-10 dropped 220 bombs and fired around 20,000 depleted uranium projectiles. AH-64 Apache helicopters flew a total of eight sorties against the border fortifications on the Paštrik, but never flew into Serbian territory. Wesely Clark from Grafenwoehr in Germany had sent 5,100 American soldiers from Task Force Hawk to Kirres in Albania. This was seen as the vanguard of a possible ground operation that was prepared by Clark, but rejected by the Pentagon. This meant the Task Force Hawk , the AH-64 was composed of a basic fighting force of 24 Apache and heavy artillery, including 24 M270 MLRS -Mehrfachraketenwerfern, eight 155-mm howitzers and armored units with M1 Abrams should be supported -Panzern, not a single shot submitted. The main reason that Task Force Hawk was not allowed to be deployed between April and June 1999 was the poor preparation of the unit, which, because it was not adequately prepared for the topographical and logistical challenges in the combat area, was not an effective force against well-developed positions offered in the mountainous environment. Nevertheless, the Hawk task force supported the uncovering of the VJ's artillery positions with its artillery radar, which resulted in the positions being discovered, but not being able to produce an up-to-date picture of how to combat the positions by constantly changing positions. The VJ artillery remained active a week after the battle began, destroying the Albanian border post of Pogaj on May 31 and the Albanian villages of Pogaj and Pergolaj on June 3.

Heavy artillery battles that were conducted across the border from Albania and Kosovo accompanied the fighting on the Paštrik. After the situation for the VJ had stabilized on May 28th, NATO began bombing carpets on May 30th, particularly targeting the two Albanian villages of Planeja and Šeh mahala immediately below the Gorožup border post. The bombing of the heavy strategic bombers B-52 and B-1 also sent a signal to the soldiers of the KLA, who started their main advance against the border line on May 31. After heavy barrage by the Oganj multiple rocket launchers and field artillery of the VJ on Albanian territory, the advance was completely stopped on the afternoon of May 31. The UÇK offensive was about to fail after heavy losses, the VJ had meanwhile removed all wedges that reached across the border line and restored the fighting position to the starting position of May 26, 1999. The UÇK then turned directly to NATO with a request for further air support.

The initially reported high casualty figures on June 6th and 7th 1999 in the bombing of the VJ by B-52 bombers could not be confirmed after the war. Post-war analyzes confirmed that the estimated casualty figures of the VJ of 400 to 800 were exaggerated and that the The bombing of the VJ did not cause any significant losses. According to post-war analyzes, the B-52 attacks had little military effect but more of a diplomatic benefit. According to Serbian sources, the bombing of Planeja on June 6th only killed ten VJ soldiers. It was, however, the greatest loss for the VJ during the entire Battle of the Paštrik. In particular, however, analyzes by NATO showed that there were no heavy weapons at all in Planeja, the place served as a forward command post for the infantry. However, the bombing of Planeja was portrayed by NATO staff and in briefings for the world media as a resounding success against the VJ, and even in later analyzes of the outcome of the war it was often an alleged turnaround. In truth, the VJ had won the battle of the Paštrik and the KLA caused the greatest losses in the course of the war. With 453 officially reported dead and 700 wounded, the UÇK had twenty times more deaths than the VJ, which had a total of only 26 deaths. The UÇK had lost a quarter of the troops provided on the offensive during the fighting on the Paštrik and thus lost the battle with very high casualties. A senior American intelligence officer described the failure of the operation, which was also supported by the Air Force, by saying that the KLA had been "finished off" in the fighting, and NATO air support could not have helped here. The VJ's losses of heavy equipment were just as negligible; official figures from the 549th Brigade indicate two heavy 120 mm mortars, three trucks, an ambulance and two transporters with water cisterns for the entire period of the battle. During the entire operation, NATO was unable to take out a single VJ tank or troop transport, and the 549th Motorized Brigade was not affected in its combat effectiveness after the battle. The massive air strikes by NATO during the battle only delayed the total defeat of the UÇK on the Paštrik, but never endangered the VJ.

Overall, the battle of the Paštrik formed the key point in the war of the VJ against the UÇK, which had significant losses and proved useless in a field battle against a regular army in direct comparison with the far superior VJ. The UÇK had no weight as a military factor in order to be able to hold out any military operations over long periods of time against the VJ or to decide a decisive battle in their favor.

Compared to NATO, the VJ's success in the Battle of the Paštrik meant that the aerial warfare did not lead to any tangible results in terms of the combat strength of the VJ army units mobilized in Kosovo; A ground offensive proposed by Clark at the beginning of June with 175,000 to 200,000 soldiers from Albania and North Macedonia, which should have been deployed on September 1, was an extremely ambitious idea, which in reality, due to the late schedule with the imminent onset of winter, the logistical Problems caused by the underdeveloped infrastructure and a lack of priority in comparison to conflict areas in the Persian Gulf and the Korean Peninsula were not supported by Clark's superiors in the Pentagon.

The VJ suffered only 26 deaths from bombing, artillery and infantry fire in the twenty days that are considered to be the toughest battles of the war. Twenty soldiers of the 549th Motorized Brigade were killed by NATO bombs and six in combat with the KLA. The battle had thwarted all plans to conduct a ground offensive into Kosovo using only the KLA forces. The further path was thus open to a negotiated solution, as there was no consensus within NATO on the direction of a ground offensive. The 549th Motorized Brigade was awarded the Order of the People's Hero on June 16, 1999 .

The necessary concentration of the VJ at the border crossings to Albania during the fighting against the UÇK made it easier for NATO to hit the Serbs' troops. Battle analysis showed that the VJ suffered 60 percent of its losses in Kosovo in the past two weeks.

By the end of May 1999, over 750,000 Kosovars were on the run, 570,000 of them within the province. The VJ systematically used the expulsion to destabilize the neighboring countries of Macedonia and Albania. More than 230,000 people had fled to Macedonia by the end of May and the country's ethnic fabric was in danger. Numerous aid flights to Tirana and Skopje and the establishment of refugee camps prevented the balance from being disturbed.

Attacks on civilian targets as war crimes

Places within Kosovo and southern Serbia where NATO used uranium-coated ammunition

According to international humanitarian law, the Hague Land Warfare Regulations , the Geneva Red Cross Agreement, the 1954 Cultural Property Convention and the UN Convention on the Prohibition of Arms, civil targets may neither be attacked nor made the subject of reprisals. Amnesty International issued a 65-page report calling for the violations to be investigated and those responsible to be punished. Amnesty referred, among other things, to the attack on the Serbian television station RTS and the use of uranium-coated ammunition. According to AI, NATO responded with the blanket claim that the allegations were "baseless" and "poorly substantiated". They only made “a few mistakes” in the course of the war. Amnesty also criticized the chief prosecutor del Ponte: "Anyone who does not even want to start investigations against NATO in view of these strong indications appears biased."

Planning a NATO ground offensive

US AH-64 Apache attack helicopters and UH-60 Black Hawk transport helicopters stationed in Albania in April 1999

Increasing criticism of the ineffectiveness of pushing the Serbian troops out of Kosovo by means of limited air strikes led to renewed considerations of a ground offensive at the end of May. On May 28th, Tony Blair flew to Washington to consult with Bill Clinton. The biggest obstacle to a ground offensive, however, was that it would have taken months to create a numerically superior army. After the war it became known that the British Prime Minister had agreed with the US President at the beginning of June that a ground offensive was actually necessary to defeat the VJ on June 10, 1999; it could have started in September 1999 at the earliest.

Kumanovo Agreement and UN Resolution 1244

On June 3, the Serbian parliament approved the peace plan presented by the G-8 states on May 6, and President Milošević also approved it. The subsequent negotiations on the military implementation turned out to be difficult at first due to new demands from the Serbian side.

On June 9, during military negotiations in Kumanovo, NATO and Yugoslavia agreed on the withdrawal of Serbian troops from Kosovo and the stationing of a NATO-led peacekeeping force ( KFOR ) under a UN mandate. NATO then ended the bombing. A large part of the Serbian population left Kosovo for fear of acts of revenge from the Albanian side.

On June 10, the United Nations Security Council approved both the peace plan and the military agreement in UN resolution 1244 .

Russian advance to Pristina

On June 12, KFOR entered Kosovo as part of Operation Joint Guardian . In the process, they encountered almost 200 Russian paratroopers at Pristina airport , who had captured it in a coup- de-sac from Bosnia in the early hours of the morning on June 11, and reinforced by six Ilyushin Il-76 transport aircraft with 2,000 regular paratroopers deployed in a secret operation expected, but were stopped by the blockade of overflight rights over Hungary on June 11th. To the news that the Russians would arrive before the NATO troops, the NATO commander in chief Wesley Clark reacted unusually harshly and ordered the British troop commander Mike Jackson to stop them at all possible costs - including by military means. Jackson refused the order several times, saying I won't start World War III because of you. According to Colonel General Leonid Grigoryevich Iwaschow , who commanded the Russian paratroopers during the operation, Clark's order was prevented by the lack of consensus within NATO, since, according to Ivashov, three unnamed countries of the alliance vigorously opposed military action during the vote in the North Atlantic Council had voted. According to Ivashov, there was also an agreement between the Russian Army and the VJ that in the event of a NATO attack, the VJ units still in Kosovo should fight back militarily with the Russian paratroopers. When asked by a German general what could have caused this incident, Iwashow said, according to his own testimony, that if you attack the Russian army, prepare yourself to defend Brussels .

A demarche by the top commanders in Washington went to Clark, who after the war quickly fell out of favor in the United States Department of Defense because of his idiosyncrasy and his decision to go to war in Bosnia and Kosovo, which was also based on private motives, and despite his military success as a NATO- Supreme Command Southeast was recalled from his post two years earlier than planned. The NATO troops interpreted Russian unity as the vanguard of larger contingents, which led to tension between the two parties, as the NATO forces hermetically sealed off the Slatina airport near Pristina and indicated that the Russian troops were completely isolated. In negotiations, NATO finally approved Russia's participation in KFOR in four out of five sectors, but denied them a sector of their own.

The NATO troops followed immediately. As the first unit of the armored unit of the Bundeswehr under the leadership of Brigadier General Fritz von Korff and the Multinational South Brigade (MNB-S) led by her, a reinforced tank company moved into Kosovo on June 12th in the wake of British troops from Macedonia.

On June 21, NATO Secretary General Javier Solana declared the NATO air strikes over, and on June 24, the Serbian parliament decided to lift the state of war.

Espionage incident in NATO

On December 13, 2001, a military tribunal in Paris found French commandant Pierre-Henri Bunel guilty of treason and sentenced him to a sentence reduced from five to two years. Bunel was charged with disclosing top secret NATO target coordinates and operational data to the Serbian agent and Colonel Jovan Milanović in Brussels in 1998. As a motive for the act he admitted, he stated that he wanted to convince Serbia of the authenticity of NATO's threats and thus avert a humanitarian catastrophe in the country. The Guardian saw Bunel's drive in his sluggish military career. According to the BBC, other NATO members accused France of complicating the air strikes because of its historical sympathies for Serbia, which were particularly strong in the French officer corps.

The actual risk that Bunel posed to North Atlantic Alliance soldiers turned out to be low, as the information he released was preliminary. The Independent accused Bunel of " anti-Americanism " instead of certain sympathies.

Immediate consequences of the war

Military casualties and civilian casualties

Gravestone for four UÇK fighters in Smirë, who are known as martyrs

To date, there are only different and contradicting information about the victims on both the Albanian and Serbian sides. In a report for the UN War Crimes Tribunal in 2002, the number of Albanian war victims was estimated at over 10,000. By the end of 2001, 4,211 bodies had been exhumed in Kosovo. In the same year the Serbian government estimated the number of Serbian and other non-Albanian victims at 2000 to 3000. According to extensive research by the NGO HLC, the confirmed total number of dead and missing is 13,526 (Albanians, Serbs and others).

Refugees and international media in Kukës, Albania

According to the report of the international commission “The Independent International Commission on Kosovo”, the number of victims in the first phase of the conflict, from February 1998 to March 1999, was relatively low: up to September 1998 around 1,000 civilians were killed, albeit without any secured Proof. The number of victims from September 1998 to March 1999, however, was described as unknown, but must have been lower. During this first phase, more than 400,000 people were forced to leave their homes, around half of whom were classified as "internally displaced". Most of the internally displaced people have returned after the Holbrooke-Milošević agreement. For the second phase of the conflict after the start of the NATO air strikes, from March 24 to June 19, 1999, the report estimates the number of fatalities to be in the vicinity of 10,000, the majority of whom were Kosovar Albanians who were killed by forces of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Approximately 863,000 civilians sought refuge outside of Kosovo or were displaced from Kosovo during this period, according to the report. And another 590,000 were “internally displaced” within Kosovo, that is, they lived outside of their own home.

The VJ had 514 dead in the conflict, 164 died in NATO air strikes, 291 in battles with the UÇK and 59 soldiers died in non-combat accidents. In addition, there are victims among the units of the MUP (police) as well as irregulars and civilian victims. According to official reports, NATO had no victims. However, information suggests that in covert operations by Delta Forces and other special forces that operated in Kosovo during the war (according to the British SAS ), and especially in the heavy and several weeks long battles at the Košare border post, soldiers from special forces of the Western Alliance have perished.

Ten civilians were killed in another NATO air strike in two waves of attack on the Morava Bridge in the small town of Varvarin in central Serbia , most of them in the second attack when they tried to take care of those killed and injured in the first wave of attack.

According to a report by the ICRC , 2,900 people were reported missing at the end of 2000, 2,400 of them Kosovar Albanians, 400 Serbs, 100 of other nationalities.

Several times NATO planes violated the airspace in Bulgaria , on whose territory several rockets fell. In an incident on April 29, 1999 at 9:45 p.m., the upper floor of a two-story apartment building in the Sofia suburb of Gorna Banja was destroyed by a NATO missile, according to a NATO spokesman, by an air-to-surface missile that was fired against Serbian air defense radar as a defense but missed its goal. Immediately after the incident, the government tried to trace the rocket back to an alleged Serbian aircraft. In a subsequent interview, the chairman of the euro-left Alexandar Tomov said that NATO uses Bulgaria as a garbage can.

In north-eastern Bania, 34 civilians died from landmines and duds , some of which had hit up to 20 kilometers across the border; more than 200 others were injured.

In April 2008, Carla Del Ponte , former chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague , accused the KLA of killing Serb civilians and prisoners in order to sell their organs after the end of the war . During her investigations she had come across a "wall of silence" from both the Kosovar Albanian and the western side, so that she was not able to complete her investigation successfully. However, since only weak evidence is said to have been available, no further investigations in this direction took place. However, these rumors were fueled in December 2010 by a report by the Swiss member of the European Council, Dick Marty , accusing the Kosovar Liberation Army UÇK of involvement in illegal organ trafficking . Organs were removed from prisoners in a hospital and then sold to foreign clinics on the international black market. The report is based on intelligence and was rejected by the Kosovar cabinet. Documents of the UN Kosovo mission UNMIK from 2003 name the places of Prizren , Suva Reka and Orahovac as starting points for the illegal prisoner transports in 1999 and 2000 . The German Bundeswehr contingent of the NATO force KFOR was responsible for controlling these places and the border crossing from them to Albania. So far, no investigation or legal proceedings have been initiated in Kosovo or by international jurisdictions . A special court in Kosovo will deal with the clarification of alleged crimes committed by the KLA.

Property damage and destruction of cultural monuments by NATO air strikes in Serbia

Street scene in Belgrade (1999)

As a result of the bombing of the open cities of Belgrade, Niš and Novi Sad, NATO bombers and cruise missiles damaged a total of 54 objects of the transport infrastructure, 148 buildings, 300 schools, hospitals and administrative facilities as well as 176 cultural monuments, including 23 medieval monasteries.

One of the greatest cultural losses was the destruction of part of the depot of the worldwide unique and one of the five largest film archives collection of the Yugoslav Cinematheque ( Jugoslovenska kinoteka ) in the Belgrade suburb of Bubanj Potok, in which 80,000 tapes were lost.

The damaged, art-historically significant architectural monuments include representative buildings in the city center of Belgrade, such as the building of the Government of Serbia (architect Nikola Krasnov, 1936) and the listed buildings of the new and old General Staff in Nemanjina Ulica, for which there are still no urban planning Solution was found. The 15th century monastery of Rakovica , which is located on the hill of the special military building 909 Straževica near Kneževac, was badly damaged 36 times during the war by NATO aircraft, which used bunker-breaking bombs weighing up to 3000 kg.

The buildings that stand out for Serbia's modern architecture, such as the first skyscraper in Novi Beograd, the former Central Committee building, the Palata Usče (Mihailo Janković, 1959) and the capital's first luxury hotel, Jugoslavija , were also targets of the bombing and were damaged .

Both a part of the museum complex May 25 in Belgrade, which consists of the mausoleum and Tito's residences on Dedinje, and the historically extremely important villa at Užička 15 (Alexander Acović, 1933), where the former President of Yugoslavia as well The armed forces commander for Southeast Europe Alexander Löhr in World War II and later Slobodan Milošević lived, were bombed on April 23, 1999 with several projectiles.

According to NATO, the accidental bombing of the Chinese embassy is also one of the so-called " collateral damage " of the bombing of Yugoslavia.

As a reminder of the nights of bombing, memorials for the civilian and military victims were built in many communities in Serbia.

Property damage, destruction of cultural monuments and the consequences of war in Kosovo

According to the UNHCR, after the withdrawal of the Yugoslav army, around 30% of the homes in Kosovo were uninhabitable, more than fifty percent of agricultural property had been destroyed, property had been looted and essential infrastructure and telecommunications facilities destroyed. Economic life had come to a standstill and the administration had to be rebuilt. Mines and non-detonated explosive devices made large areas unsafe.

UNESCO saw the architectural heritage of Kosovo in danger. Many buildings - especially Serbian Orthodox and Muslim sacred buildings - were destroyed by demolitions, arson and looting. According to   Harvard University's Kosovo Cultural Heritage Survey , over 200 mosques and other Islamic buildings were destroyed by Serbian units in 1998/1999. The Serbian Orthodox Church gives the number of churches severely damaged or destroyed by Albanians between May and October 1999 as 76.

Military efficiency of NATO air strikes

Only after the end of the conflict did the picture of the number of victims in the attacks on the Serbian troops and the VJ become clear. These had suffered far fewer casualties than the daily NATO briefings suggested, which the NATO Commander in Chief for Europe raised serious allegations and cast doubt on NATO's ability to eliminate military targets in the campaign. The Yugoslav 3rd Army, led by Nebojša Pavković, remained intact despite the considerable air superiority of NATO and was never seriously threatened.

Thorough military analyzes after the end of the fighting in the target areas of the air strikes and the count of destroyed military equipment of the VJ corroborated the criticism of the US Air Force and General Wesley Clark, who had overstated reports of military success and the number of destroyed Serbian tanks while the units were in operation the Serbian army were able to leave Kosovo practically unscathed. The air campaign of the Kosovo war was hailed as the most successful military action in history, especially at daily NATO briefings, in which NATO did not suffer a single death. In retrospect, however, it became questionable whether this was not just military propaganda in principle, since the official analyzes by the Royal Air Force also painted a devastating picture of the successes of the air war. In particular, the known low precision in the use of ammunition was criticized and the severe accompanying damage during the bombing was lamented.

The attack by a US F-15-E on a passenger train near Grdelica , which was captured by the target camera , also contributed to the damage to NATO's image. A tape of the target video that was played much faster than normal at a NATO press conference raised allegations of manipulation and raised doubts about the explanation that the pilot could not have recognized the train in time.

At a press conference on September 14, 1999, Wesley Clark took stock of the air war and announced that NATO had destroyed 112 tanks, 179 armored vehicles, 376 other military vehicles and 435 VJ artillery pieces in 78 days in Kosovo.

During the war, NATO fired at least 35,000 projectiles (around ten tons) of depleted uranium . Cluster bombs and land mines were also used. Numerous landmines from the Serbian army and unexploded ammunition from NATO cluster bombs remained in Kosovo. The Council of Europe has criticized the bombing as a violation of the Geneva Convention because of the ecological consequences.

Sustainable consequences of the Kosovo conflict

Serbia and Kosovo

On February 17, 2008, the parliament of Kosovo declared the independence of the Republic of Kosovo . 115 of the 193 UN member states have so far recognized Kosovo as an independent state , including the majority of the EU states and the USA. The separation from Serbia, Russia and most of the South American and Asian countries is not recognized.

Five senior Serbian officials were sentenced to long prison terms before the international tribunal in The Hague in February 2009 for their involvement in war crimes against the Albanian civilian population.

It took many years for the most important infrastructure structures in Serbia to be rebuilt. Occasionally only the bare essentials were rebuilt, as the damage was so substantial that only a complete demolition and new construction was possible, as with many destroyed bridges. The Belgrade TV tower only went back into operation in 2010. Ruins and structural remains of bridges, office buildings and factories are still present across the country to this day.

NATO Military Intervention: Consequences and Evaluation

NATO continued its military intervention without a UN mandate from, however, contributed to the legitimacy of allegations of human rights violations by Yugoslav security forces against the civilian population in the majority of Albanians populated Serbian province of Kosovo. Yugoslavia, on the other hand, complained about secessionist tendencies among large parts of the Albanian population of Kosovo and invoked the right to fight the KLA, which has been operating with guerrilla methods since 1997 .

The air war ( Operation Allied Force ), which was waged by NATO air forces without the use of ground troops, initially involved 430 aircraft. Due to the unforeseen long duration of the war, a total of 1200 combat aircraft had to be mobilized from 14 NATO member states by the end of the war.

A political crisis within NATO that broke out over the operational strategy and humanitarian reasons, which split into the camps of the partisans of a military escalation in the grouping around the USA and Great Britain as well as the countries around Germany, France, Italy and Greece who were trying to prevent the expansion of the war , aggravated the fragility of the NATO consensus during the operation with the ongoing internal strategic conflict within the American military leadership.

The dispute at the military command over the strategic line between Wesley Clark, SACEUR of the NATO armed forces in Europe, who advocated the primary use and escalation of warfare against the VJ in Kosovo, and Michael C. Short, NATO Chief of Air Force ( Joint Air Force Component Commander ) and thus the planner of the air strikes, who opted for an expansion above the 44th parallel to Serbia's civil infrastructure, damaged Clark's leadership position lastingly. The resistance of the operational military leadership to political guidelines for warfare contributed to a reassessment of military operations of the US Army within coalition alliances, which allowed essential parts such as the strategic B2 bomber fleet to operate outside of the NATO control body.

The paged at the celebration of the 50th anniversary of NATO on April 23 and 24 in Washington DC Currency We will prevail ( we will prevail ), which ultimately stopped all military options open for a win NATO represented a After Short's concept was adopted by the Chief of Staff of the US Army, from the end of April 1999 onwards, NATO mainly focused on the economic and infrastructural basis of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The most important consequence was the lasting destruction of Serbia's infrastructure, which also caused the number of civilian victims to rise above those among the security forces. On the other hand, the extensive ineffectiveness of fighting the ground troops of the VJ led to negligible losses of 9 out of 1,025 tanks and 36 out of 1,246 artillery weapons.

As a result of the war , a UN administration was set up in the province based on Resolution 1244 of the UN Security Council , but at the same time the area's membership of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was confirmed.

In its 1999 annual review, the Tagesschau rated the NATO mission as a failure: the duration of the war had been underestimated, it had strengthened the Serbian regime and welded the population together. The fight against military targets has increasingly turned into a war against the population and triggered a humanitarian catastrophe. “Balance of the war: Serbia has been bombed back economically by 40 years. The Balkans are not more stable. Kosovo is a UN protectorate and Slobodan Milosevic is still in power. "

In 2009, ZEIT concluded that, despite the ongoing air war, Serbia ultimately only gave in because the coalition had succeeded in convincing Russia to withdraw support from Serbia. The goal of a multi-ethnic Kosovo had not been achieved.

Legal assessment

Shot down MiG-29 of the JNA

According to the regulations of the Charter of the United Nations , only the Security Council is authorized to impose military coercive measures against a state. However, the United Nations did not have a resolution for the NATO mission, as Russia did not consent to a military intervention. Many international lawyers ( Simma , Cassese , Hilpold ) are of the opinion that NATO has acted against the prohibition of violence formulated in Article 2, Paragraph 4 of the UN Charter and that the war of aggression against Yugoslavia was contrary to international law. Bruno Simma argued that NATO itself I kept as closely as possible to the resolutions of the world security law and the humanitarian stipulations of international law. Only a thin red line would have separated NATO's approach from legality. The dilemma of acting for humanitarian reasons without the consent of the Security Council was easily demonstrable and well-founded in the case of the Kosovo war, but such action should not become the norm.

In contrast, proponents of NATO air operations do not see the fact that a war of aggression has been prepared as fulfilled and also assume that the two-plus-four treaty was not violated either. a. also because even before the attacks began, there could have been no talk of a "peaceful coexistence of peoples" in Kosovo. The NATO action was admissible under both international and constitutional law. This arises from an emergency-like right to humanitarian intervention , which allows military force to be used to avert a humanitarian catastrophe after all other means have been exhausted. This right to emergency aid is thus in direct contrast to the exclusivity of the Security Council's decisions on war and peace - its derivation is unclear and extremely controversial, although some references to deductions from the humanitarian international law of the Geneva Conventions and the generally increased importance of human rights in customary international law since 1945 has been. The military operation of NATO took place to create peace and to avert a humanitarian catastrophe and was necessary and justified because the UN Security Council - although on September 23, 1998 in Resolution 1199, the Serbian approach as "excessive use of force" and expressly condemned it as a “threat to peace” - could not or did not want to act effectively. On the other hand, international law experts like Hilpold and Simma are of the opinion to this day that the vague term of a “humanitarian catastrophe” could not override the UN Charter's prohibition of violence.

After all political efforts to reach a peace settlement between the conflicting parties were unsuccessful, the de facto decision to go to war was based on the decision of the NATO Council of 8 October 1998 on limited and phased air operations to avert a humanitarian catastrophe in Kosovo.

On April 29, 1999, Yugoslavia filed a complaint against ten NATO member states (Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Canada, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and the USA) with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague. Denmark, Greece, Iceland, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, the Czech Republic, Turkey and Hungary were not complained about. The counts of the ten individual proceedings primarily relate to violations of international law principles such as the prohibition of violence, genocide , the prohibition of intervention and disregard for the principle of sovereignty . Since Yugoslavia was not a member of the UN during the war, the proceedings were discontinued without a decision on the matter because the court did not have jurisdiction.

Legal and political positions in Germany

The German Bundestag approved the participation of armed forces of the Bundeswehr on October 16, 1998. Before that, the current Kohl cabinet, together with the winners of the 1998 Bundestag election , Gerhard Schröder and Joschka Fischer , decided to deploy the Bundeswehr within NATO without a UN mandate, the first deployment of German soldiers in a military conflict in Europe since the Second World War .

The then acting Federal Minister of Justice as the technically competent cabinet member of the outgoing Kohl government, Edzard Schmidt-Jortzig , did not take part in the vote. He had protested against what he believed to be an illegal cabinet proposal on the cabinet acts.

Minister of State Ludger Volmer also rejected the NATO mission in the debate on October 16, 1998 and referred to the expected global political consequences:

Let's not fool ourselves: the argument that this is an exception and not a precedent is window dressing. Any regional power that wants to create order in its neighborhood in the future and can only lead a halfway appropriate UN resolution will refer to the example. The door is wide open to the self-mandating of military alliances; a Security Council, which is bypassed whenever a veto threatens, is suspended as a guarantor of the UN monopoly of force. It is no secret that such a development has supporters precisely where the disposition of powerful military apparatus gives rise to the consideration of whether one should share power with numerous other poorer, weaker countries within the framework of international organizations, if one should be strong enough is to be able to enforce one's own will anytime anywhere.

The participation of the Federal Republic of Germany was seen by Andreas Zumach , among others, as a violation of the Basic Law and also of the 2 + 4 Treaty . The contract text is:

According to the constitution of the united Germany, actions which are suitable and are undertaken with the intention of disturbing the peaceful coexistence of peoples, in particular to prepare for the conduct of a war of aggression, are unconstitutional and punishable. The governments of the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic declare that the unified Germany will never use any of its weapons, unless in accordance with its constitution and the Charter of the United Nations .

Despite numerous criminal charges filed with the Attorney General for violating Section 80 of the Criminal Code (preparation for a war of aggression ), no investigations were initiated. According to the Federal Public Prosecutor General, the complainants overlooked the fact that Section 80 of the Criminal Code is derived from Article 26 of the Basic Law , which expressly provides that only those acts "which are suitable and are undertaken with the intention of allowing peaceful coexistence between peoples to be punished to disturb". In view of the already existing disturbance of peaceful coexistence in Kosovo and the peace-enforcing motive for their actions in the self-understanding of the Federal Government, an intention within the meaning of Article 26.1 of the Basic Law and Article 80 of the Criminal Code is nowhere near.



Representation of the conflict by the government

At the beginning of the bombing of Serbia on March 24, 1999, the opposition to the war and to the involvement of the Bundeswehr was marginal. The televised address given by Chancellor Gerhard Schröder is credited with attuning the German people to the use of the Bundeswehr. After that there were no noteworthy pacifist protests. Statements by German politicians such as Federal Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer and Federal Defense Minister Rudolf Scharping , who described the actions of the Serbian troops in the context of the alleged horseshoe plan as part of a genocide , were present in the public consciousness. Federal Foreign Minister Fischer appealed ( addressed in particular to his party The Greens ): “ We have always said: 'Never again war!' But we also always said: 'Never again Auschwitz!' “Scharping appeared effective in the media with the description of atrocities, which he described as proven. As a moral justification for the war effort, he told the news magazine Der Spiegel , for example, the claim: “ The Balkans are not about oil or raw materials. What we are doing now is because of an extremely brutal violation of human rights and the rights of life. [...] After their murder, pregnant women had their bellies slit open and their fetuses barbecued. "

Geographical works after the Kosovo war also contained depictions of a systematic expulsion of the Kosovar Albanians that was already in progress and only triggered the NATO attacks (example: “ The systematic expulsion of the Albanian population from Kosovo by the Serbian army culminated in Kosovo in 1999 War. Yugoslavia was exposed to massive air strikes by NATO. ")

Accusation of illegal international law on the part of prominent politicians

Prominent German politicians who opposed the bombing of Serbia included the then SPD politician Oskar Lafontaine , the then chairman of the PDS parliamentary group Gregor Gysi , the former Federal Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger (FDP) and the former OSCE Vice President and Bundestag member Willy Wimmer (CDU), who spoke of an “ordinary war of aggression ” and accused the Federal Government of the time, in particular Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer and Defense Minister Rudolf Scharping, of “manipulation”. Former Federal Chancellor Helmut Schmidt was also one of the war opponents. The CSU politician Peter Gauweiler drew parallels to the Iraq war in 2004 : “Both the US intervention in Iraq and the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia and its capital Belgrade took place without a mandate from the United Nations. This is true of German international law and has been emphatically assessed as contrary to international law ”. Gregor Gysi traveled to Serbia for talks with Milosević at the height of the conflict. A little later he asked Milosević again, after personal talks with refugees, to consent to a UN peacekeeping force, and criticized Milosević - without abandoning his criticism of the NATO mission - for belittling human rights violations by the Serbian army.

Defense of the motives of NATO action

The foreign correspondent of the taz judged in retrospect: "Anyone who knew the conditions in Kosovo from their own experience had to approve of the war."

In defense of NATO's approach, the philosopher Jürgen Habermas stated that deficiencies in international law that legitimize encroachment should not lead to inaction against genocide: “ From the dilemma of having to act as if there was already a fully institutionalized cosmopolitan state that they are promoting The intention is, but does not follow the maxim of leaving the victims to their henchmen. The terrorist misappropriation of state violence transforms the classic civil war into a mass crime. If there is no other way, democratic neighbors must be able to rush to emergency aid that is legitimized under international law. "

“Collateral damage” the bad word of the year

The wording " collateral damage ", used by the civilian NATO press spokesman Jamie Shea during the war with deliberately euphemistic intent for the civilian victims and property damage for which NATO is responsible, was voted the Unword of the Year 1999 by the Society for German Language . The jury cited the “trivializing of the killing of innocent people as a minor matter” as a reason .

Accusation of one-sided media reporting and covering up the politics of interests

Heinz Loquai , then senior general and military advisor at the German OSCE mission in Vienna , whose employment contract was not extended despite prior approval by the Federal Ministry of Defense after Loquai had made serious allegations against Rudolf Scharping in a TV program in 2000, described the Representations of the Kosovo conflict in the German media as mostly one-sided and one-dimensional, in that they viewed the conflict up to and including the NATO war as being the fault of the Belgrade leadership. The image of the Kosovo conflict in German public opinion, in politics and science, from the Yugoslav policy of repression from 1989 to the crimes against the Kosovar Albanians after the start of the NATO air strikes, is viewed from a perspective that the events as consequences of Serbian nationalism in a reduced way, but not in the context of a civil war. Statements such as those by NATO Secretary General Solana (“This war is being waged for values ​​and for the moral constitution of the Europe in which we will live in the 21st century”), General Naumann (in Kosovo “was waged because of an idea because of a war , not because of interests ”) or Foreign Minister Fischer (the“ so-called Occident […] is fighting for the human rights of a Muslim people ”) counter to Loquai that the German government has its own, pure interests policy with the moralizing application of the US concept of " Rogue state " only cloaked. Instead of the thus veiled own interests, the public's gaze was drawn to the enormous personalization of Yugoslav politics as a "villain", the Yugoslav President, whose motives for action were presented as low and irrational, so that the path for a diplomatic solution was unnecessary had been installed. The main interest of the new German government concealed in this way was to demonstrate reliability and continuity in foreign policy. For the USA, too, the national interest was at the core of its Kosovo policy. In addition to economic interests, the prestige of the USA as a world power and the position of the US-dominated NATO in the hierarchy of international organizations would have been in the foreground.

Documentation Controversy It started with a lie

After the fighting ended, the Kosovo war was again heavily discussed in the media. In Germany, the WDR documentary It began with a lie, shown on February 8, 2001, played a prominent role, the content of which was aimed at proving the justification for wanting to "prevent a humanitarian catastrophe in Kosovo" with the NATO air strikes (Gerhard Schröder, March 24, 1999), based on lies and manipulation with the intention of deliberate deception. This report was again heavily criticized by the FAZ and the magazine Der Spiegel for the selective reproduction of witness statements and "unclean" research methods. This criticism joined Rupert Neudeck and Norbert Blum , which both checked the WDR film through their own research. The WDR editor Mathias Werth , co-author of the documentary, replied in an interview with the “Stattzeitung für Südbaden” to the criticism: “You saw the work of your correspondents on site as discredited by this film. I understand that, because some people may see criticism in the film of how this war was reported. […] The question is, what are the factual allegations against the film in the end? And there hasn't been a single accusation to this day. ”The WDR stuck to its presentation.

Critique of the Auschwitz comparison by Joschka Fischer

The Kosovo war was brought up again in the spring of 2010 in the debate about the Bundeswehr 's mission in Afghanistan , as this initiated the active military presence of German soldiers in NATO missions. That the Kosovo war propaganda instrument of policy was the journalist criticized Barbara Supp in the mirror the example of Fischer's Auschwitz comparison: "And then spoke Joschka Fischer of a new Auschwitz, the plan of the Serbian Milosevic and prevent war is only through . Auschwitz - the ultimate means. The war in Kosovo, even though international law spoke against it, was fair and without alternative. It was called 'humanitarian intervention'. Anyone who opposed it would be an ally of the Serbian murderers.

Comparison of the media representation of intellectual standpoints 2010

In his dissertation, Staging a Just War? After comparing the columnist descriptions in leading newspapers, Kurt Gritsch summarized intellectuals, the media and the “Kosovo War” of 2010: “The 'Kosovo War' was ... for several reasons not a 'humanitarian intervention', namely, because 'the official one Intentions were undermined by politics of interests,… the chosen method of air warfare caused more suffering than prevented,… humanitarian goods were 'forgotten' in preparation,… the financial resources of the UN institutions were clearly too low ”. Gritsch sees a main factor in the media impact in the fact that no facts were analyzed, but opinions and evaluations without alternatives were narrated, which followed a cliché of good and bad and anti-Serbian resentment.


Analysis of propaganda techniques in the media

Principles of war propaganda and manipulation techniques

In his work on disinformation, the French writer Vladimir Volkoff worked out manipulation techniques that he found implemented in all criteria in the Kosovo war.

Dissemination of rumors and one-sided representations through the media

The monthly magazine Le Monde diplomatique published a critical dossier in March 2000, in which the role of the media in the spread of unsubstantiated rumors was presented. The western states refused to find a diplomatic solution.

In their work "L'opinion, ça se travaille" (2000), Serge Halimi , Dominique Vidal and Henri Maler criticize the Western media's propaganda for promoting military intervention. In particular, the rumors of genocide and ethnic cleansing are analyzed, as well as the almost general absence of public justifications after their lack of justification has been exposed, the benevolent treatment of NATO's war crimes and the systematic denunciation of the war opponents as supporters of the Serbian government.

Accused of covering up human rights violations by the secret services

The French elite soldier Jacques Hogard , former paratrooper of the Légion étrangère and holder of the Order of the Legion of Honor , who, as commanding officer of French special forces, negotiated the entry of his army into Kosovo with the VJ, wrote about the cover-up of serious human rights violations by the UÇK after the withdrawal of the VJ Essay “L'Europe est Morte à Pristina” ( Europe was buried in Pristina ). In an interview with Večernje novosti , he accused the American, British and German secret services of giving direct support to the UÇK and of allowing attacks on the treks of fleeing Serbian civilians. As the main reason for the intervention of the Western military alliance in Yugoslavia, he named the repression of Russian influence in the Balkans, which took place in particular through Serbia.

United States

Disagreements in government

The Kosovo war was largely unpopular in the US. In his address, Bill Clinton appeased the American people with the words: “I do not intend to let our troops wage a war in Kosovo.” There was considerable disagreement about the urgency of the military operation: the political hawks around Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and her military adviser Wesley Clark was in favor of swift military action, while the General Staff at the Department of Defense under Henry H. Shelton and Security Advisor Sandy Berger urged caution. On March 23, Albright reassured the Americans about the possible duration of the fighting: “I don't see this as a long-term operation. I think that's something [...] that can be achieved within a short period of time. But [...] I'm not willing to let myself be committed. "

"Madeleine's War"

Because of the crucial role played by Foreign Minister Madeleine Albright , the Kosovo war was seen by many in the US as “Madeleine's War” . The Time Magazine wrote to this view: "More than any other embodies the foreign policy vision that the men led to war. And she is most responsible for holding the Allies and the administration together for victory. ”The title of Time magazine of May 10, 1999 showed the Foreign Minister with the headline“ Albright at war ”. Albright later commented on this accusation: “I think Madeleine's war was meant disparagingly at the time. And I'm glad that we persevered. ”As the operator of the unpopular war, she rapidly lost political influence in the Clinton administration after the end of the fighting, despite the victory against Milošević.

Accusation of short-sighted activism

In the critical post-processing of the Bush and Clinton administrations' Balkan policy, the war in Kosovo plays an essential role alongside the war in Bosnia. The argument is still not over. Critics point to the dramatic economic and social decline of the Western Balkans during the intervention period or accuse politicians and media representatives of primarily pursuing short-sighted, selfish interests. Timothy Garton Ash spoke of a "something-must-be-done brigade" that had abused the unrest in the Balkans for their own purposes until a new regional trouble spot appeared the focus moved.

Great Britain

The journalist Phillip Knightley analyzed the media coverage of the Yugoslavia conflict and worked out propaganda techniques that were also visible in other conflicts. Although 2,700 media people had accompanied the NATO troops when they entered Kosovo at the end of the bombing war, the public was drowned in tons of images that, taken together, said nothing. Journalist John Simpson, who did much of the coverage for the BBC, was suspected by the government of being the Serbs' front man when he deviated from the official NATO version of the account. According to Philip Hammond's account, in addition to “atrocity stories”, “Nazification” of the Serbian opponent was the main means of propaganda by comparing genocide and Holocaust and equating Serbian politicians with Nazi greats.

The journalist and blogger Neil Clark interpreted the bombings of Yugoslavia from the perspective of the economic interests of Great Britain and the Western world. In Yugoslavia, 75% of industry was still state-owned; since 1997, privatizations have only been carried out with compensation for the workers for the loss of their share in the company's capital. In the bombings, state companies were in the foreground, far ahead of military installations. Only 14 tanks - but 372 industrial plants - were hit, including the car factory in Zastava, but no foreign or private company. After Slobodan Milošević was eliminated, the privatization law was repealed and financial independence ended.

After the war

Symptoms of a " failed state " or weak state

Kosovo declared itself independent on February 17, 2008. Slightly more than half of the UN states recognize the independence of Kosovo . According to the TAZ report on August 21, 2000, an “ethnified, quasi-colonial protectorate” had emerged, nearly 350,000 people, including Roma, had been expelled, and discrimination against non-Albanians was systematic. The Guardian stated that the persecution of minorities was "as vicious and insidious as the actions of the Milosevic henchmen before".

According to information from 2015, youth unemployment was 60 percent, while salaries were around 300 euros and the health system was described as barely functioning. According to EULEX, the state structures of Kosovo only function to a limited extent or inadequately. However, a German police officer who worked for EULEX criticized in 2012 that the Eulex mission only sent embellished reports from Kosovo that Kosovo was firmly in the grip of organized crime, which was hiding behind an impenetrable wall of silence. The culture is still determined by clan structures and blood revenge, measures to influence the police and justice are ineffective. Sit out the presence of the commissions.

The parliament elected in 2010/2011 dissolved on May 7, 2014; on June 8th there was an early parliamentary election . The longstanding ruling party PDK lost its parliamentary majority; the other groups failed to form a coalition for six months. Isa Mustafa became Prime Minister on December 9th .


In June 2014, 320 Kosovars applied for asylum in the Federal Republic of Germany , in December 2014 and in January 2015 3630. Thousands more could not apply for asylum because the procedure was delayed due to the large onslaught. The refugees came across the 'green border' between Serbia and Hungary.

Christian Geinitz, a commentator for the FAZ , summed up in February 2015: Many were hoping for a new beginning [...]. Now the old forces continue to rule. The middle class in particular had hoped that nepotism would end and that they would finally have opportunities for advancement. These dreams have vanished, which is why the disaffected emigrate.

The EU mediates (as of February 9, 2015) between the divided neighboring countries Kosovo and Serbia. It is about the integration of the Serb minority into Kosovo, which is almost exclusively inhabited by Albanians.

See also


  • Kai Behrens: Transatlantic Relations: Europe's strategic emancipation in a distorting mirror. In: Thomas Meyer, Johanna Eisenberg (Ed.): European identity as a project. VS Verlag, Wiesbaden 2008, pp. 221–245.
  • Ivo H. Daalder, Michael E. O'Hanlon: Winning Ugly: NATO's War to Save Kosovo. Brookings Institute, Washington, DC 2000.
  • Gisela Edelbauer: Legal basis of humanitarian intervention with special consideration of the Kosovo conflict. (PDF) Dissertation . University of the Federal Armed Forces, Neubiberg 2005.
  • Research Society Flucht und Migration, Dietrich, Glöde (Ed.): Kosovo. The war against the refugees. (= FFM booklet 7). ISBN 3-922611-79-6 .
  • Kurt Gritsch: War for Kosovo. History, background, consequences . innsbruck university press, Innsbruck 2016, ISBN 978-3-902936-83-7
  • Karádi, Matthias Z., Dieter S. Lutz: The price of war is its legitimacy. On the costs and consequential costs of the Kosovo war . In: Quarterly Bulletin for Security and Peace (S + F), No. 3/1999, pp. 152–160.
  • Jan CL König: We are at war: Rhetorical discourse analysis of Gerhard Schröder's televised address on March 24, 1999. In: Jan CL König: About the power of speech. Strategies of political eloquence in literature and everyday life. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht unipress, Göttingen 2011, ISBN 978-3-89971-862-1 , pp. 298–321.
  • Heinz Loquai: The Kosovo conflict - ways to an avoidable war: the period from the end of November 1997 to March 1999. Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft, Baden-Baden 2000, ISBN 3-7890-6681-8 .
  • Dieter S. Lutz: Kosovo War - Uncovered Propaganda Lies In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung , December 15, 2000, p. 47
  • Dieter S. Lutz: "Dirty Secrets" or: Was the Kosovo war really inevitable? In: Quarterly Journal for Security and Peace (SF), No. 3/1999, pp. 143–145.
  • Dieter S. Lutz (Ed.): The War in Kosovo and the Failure of Politics Contributions from the IFSH . Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft, Baden-Baden 2000, ISBN 978-3-7890-6698-6
  • Julie A. Mertus: Kosovo: How Myths and Truths Started a War. University of California Press, Berkeley 1999.
  • Larry Minear, Ted van Baarda, Marc Sommers: NATO and Humanitarian Action in the Kosovo Crisis . Brown University, Providence 2000.
  • Alexander Neu: The Yugoslavia war reporting of the Times and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung . Nomos, 2004, ISBN 978-3-8329-0797-6
  • Malte Olschewski: The war for Kosovo. Serbia's new battle at Blackbird Field. Nidda-Verlag, 1999, ISBN 3-9806814-1-6 .
  • Harry Papasotiriou: The Kosovo War: Kosovar Insurrection, Serbian Retribution and NATO Intervention. In: The Journal of Strategic Studies. 25 (1), 2002, pp. 39-62.
  • Erich Rathfelder: Kosovo. Story of a conflict. Suhrkamp Verlag, Berlin 2011, ISBN 978-3-518-12574-8 .
  • Jens Reuter, Konrad Clewing: The Kosovo conflict. Klagenfurt 2000, ISBN 3-85129-329-0 .
  • Cathrin Schütz: The NATO intervention in Yugoslavia. Background, side effects and consequences. Wilhelm Braumüller University and Publishing Bookstore, 2003, ISBN 3-7003-1440-X .
  • Martin Smith, Paul Latawski: The Kosovo Crisis: The Evolution of Post Cold War European Security . Manchester University Press, Manchester 2003, ISBN 0-7190-5979-8 .
  • Daniel H. Joyner: The Kosovo Intervention: Legal Analysis and a More Persuasive Paradigm . In: European Journal of International Law . tape 13 , no. 3 , 2002, p. 597-619 ( ejil.org ).

Web links

Commons : Kosovo War  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

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  89. B-52 bombers head off . BBC, March 24, 1999
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  91. Los Angeles Times, March 24, 1999 Primakov Does U-Turn Over Atlantic, Heads Home
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  93. CNN, March 30, 1990 Go along on a B-52 mission
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  103. ^ Franziska Augstein: When human rights learned to shoot. In: Süddeutsche Zeitung. May 19, 2009.
  104. Helena Ranta: Foreign Ministry tried to influence Kosovo reports - Biography published of world-famous forensic dentist ( Memento from January 13, 2013 on WebCite ) In: Helsingin Sanomat. October 16, 2008.
  105. Noam Chomsky in New Statesman, June 14, 1999 Is this really a grand NATO victory?
  106. CNN, May 22, 1999 NATO confirms that KLA outpost hit
  107. NATO Mistakenly Hits Rebel Base in Kosovo, Killing 7 . New York Times, May 23, 1999
  108. Guardian, June 20, 1999 A conscript's war 'I'm not right in the head now' Milos took KLA bullets and Nato bombs. Now he wants to be alone
  109. ^ Announcement from the Chief of Staff of the American Air Force for Europe General John P. Jumper during the hearing in the American Congress, October 26, 1999 STATEMENT OF: GENERAL JOHN P. JUMPER COMMANDER, UNITED STATES AIR FORCES IN EUROPE
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  113. Interview of the online magazine Pecat with the commander of the missile division Mala Vrbica Bombardovanje 1999. Dragan Bacetić Commander raketnog diviziona u Maloj Vrbici ( Memento from March 4, 2009 in the Internet Archive )
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  115. Air Force Magazine, Vol. 82, No. 12 The Navy in the Balkans. Vice Adm. Daniel J. Murphy Jr., the Sixth Fleet commander, says carrier air did more of the job than has been recognized. ( Memento from March 5, 2009 in the Internet Archive )
  116. Aerospace power journal, Summer 2002 Kosovo and the continuing SEAD challenge ( Memento from July 11, 2012 in the web archive archive.today )
  117. Serbia promotes reorganized air defense system . Air Serbia Online Magazine
  118. For sale: Revered piece of Yugoslav past; downed US jets are source of pride . ( Memento of March 4, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) Stars and Stripes, June 3, 2001
  119. ^ Yugoslav General Dies . New York Times, June 2, 1999
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  121. ^ NATO HQ Brussels, Press Conference, June 1, 1999 Press Conference by Mr Jamie Shea, NATO Spokesman and Major General Walter Jertz, SHAPE
  122. Jane's Defance News, July 7, 1999 Kosovo: War of extremes
  123. Bad Weather Hampers Bombers' Effectiveness, US Says . New York Times, March 31, 1999
  124. In Kosovo, poisons threaten people and nature. If action is not taken soon, the drinking water of 10 million people is at risk . In: Tagesspiegel . September 14, 1999. Retrieved April 18, 2018.
  125. Surgical blows with poisonous consequences . In: Greenpeace Magazin 6.99 . ( greenpeace-magazin.de ).
  126. Gero von Randow: Contaminated areas . In: time . January 25, 2001. Retrieved April 18, 2018.
  127. Dieter S. Lutz : The calculation is wrong, the price too high . In: Dieter S. Lutz (Hrsg.): The war in Kosovo and the failure of politics. Contributions from the IFSH. Nomos Verlag 2000 (Democracy, Security, Peace 128); 468 pp. ISBN 3-7890-6698-2 , p. 289.
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  129. Kosovo: Embassy bombing report to revel targeting flaws - 'Serbs running out of SAMs', says USA . Jane's Defense News, June 2, 1999
  130. Software News, March 28, 1999 Was F-117 A pushed into Serb mission by low missile stocks ( Memento from November 19, 2008 in the Internet Archive )
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  142. Paul C. Forage 2001 ibid. P. 61
  143. Nedeljnik, May 26, 1999 “Nema nazad, iza je Srbija…”: 20 godina od borbi za Paštrik
  144. Paul C. Forage 2001 ibid. P. 61
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  146. Paul C. Forage 2001 ibid. Pp. 65-66
  147. Paul C. Forage 2001 ibid. P. 66
  148. RTS, May 23, 2019 Commander Delić: Znam kako je poginuo svaki vojnik na Paštriku
  149. Nedeljnik, May 26, 2019 “Nema nazad, iza je Srbija…”: 20 godina od borbi za Paštrik
  150. RTS, May 23, 2019 Commander Delić: Znam kako je poginuo svaki vojnik na Paštriku
  151. Paul C. Forage 2001 ibid. P. 66
  152. RTS, May 26, 2019 Kad se otadžbina branila na Paštriku - Interview with the director Slađana Zarić on the occasion of the second part of her war documentary
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  159. Guardian, June 7, 1999 Defiant Serbs rain shells on border villages Last battles: Refugees' terror as Yugoslav forces bombard advancing KLA
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  161. Washington Post, June 26, 1999 Biggest Airstrike Ended a Battle, Perhaps a War
  162. RUBBLE; Even in Towns NATO Hit, Albanians Fault Serbs . New York Times
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  166. Paul C. Forage 2001 ibid. P. 66
  167. Kad se otadžbina branila na Paštriku
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  171. Paul C. Forage 2001 ibid. P. 72
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  197. Heinz Loquai ( The Kosovo conflict - ways into an avoidable war , Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft, Baden-Baden 2000, p. 16) takes the view that the use of the German terms "refugees" and "displaced persons" in the language of the media and Politicians during the Kosovo conflict often took place in an opinion-forming manner. While the term “displaced persons” with regard to the affected Kosovar Albanians was very soon translated into German as “displaced persons”, the Serbs who left Kosovo after the end of the war were simply referred to as “refugees”. According to the UN language regulation, the term means “displaced persons”, for whom there is no adequate translation into German, but all people “who reside within the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in a place other than their normal, usual place of residence. This can also be in your own village, with your neighbors' without having to judge the reasons for leaving your home. In the period up to March 1999 there were no mass expulsions through deportations to Loquai.
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