|Updated: 10-Jul-2003||July 2003|
Russian troops leave KFOR
A ceremony held in Pristina, Kosovo, on 2 July marked the withdrawal of the Russian military contingent from the NATO-led peacekeeping force in Kosovo after four years of service.
Russian forces participated in the peacekeeping effort since the beginning of the operation in June 1999. In addition to regular peacekeeping duties, the Russian contingent was responsible for refurbishing and operating Pristina airport, contributing directly to Kosovo’s recovery from the war. Heavily damaged during the 1999 conflict, the airport now handles an average of 20 flights a day.
Russian troops also ran a hospital, which delivered crucial medical services to the local population and has treated over 10,000 patients.
“We have recently celebrated the fourth anniversary of KFOR’s entry into Kosovo. Russian soldiers have been our partners from that first day”, said General Fabio Mini, KFOR commander, at the farewell ceremony.
“I have been with them on patrol in the field, at the hospital and airport. I have seen how they contributed on a daily basis to our shared mission of maintaining the safe and secure environment in Kosovo,” he added.
The ceremony included the presentation of the NATO Medal for service with NATO on operations in Kosovo to the Commander of the Russian Military Contingent, Major General Nikolay Kriventsov.
Russian participation in NATO-led peacekeeping operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina has been one of the most visible examples of the new NATO-Russia relationship.
In light of the improving security situation in the region and as well as the other commitments, the Russian government made the decision this year to withdraw from both operations. The withdrawal from Bosnia was completed on 14 June, and the withdrawal from Kosovo marks the end of Russian participation in the two operations.