Updated: 14 May 1999 Morning Briefings


14 May 1999

Morning Briefing

By Jamie Shea, NATO Spokesman

Jamie Shea: Ladies and Gentlemen, good morning.

As we approach the end of another week, one thing is very clear to President Milosevic, NATO is unwavering, unyielding and when it comes to the human rights, peace and security of the people in Kosovo, we will also be uncompromising. And you heard this message from a number of Alliance leaders yesterday: President Clinton in Washington speaking at the National Defence University; you heard the same strong message from Prime Minister Blair in Aachen; and you heard President Chirac in Moscow last night working hard to encourage Russia's continuing help in persuading President Milosevic to see the light, but also making it clear, as other Alliance leaders are doing, that the air campaign will continue until it does; and you heard Foreign Minister Fischer in Bielefeldt yesterday make it clear that the moral imperative remains the safe and unconditional return of all of the refugees.

And there is only one way to accomplish that, as I say every day, but it bears repeating, that we will press on until Belgrade accepts the non-negotiable unconditional demands of the international community. First and foremost, the Belgrade government must stop the killing, must stop all of this horror, stop once and for all ethnic cleansing. And this afternoon in our briefing we will provide you with more details and pictures of the crimes of President Milosevic's government against the people of Kosovo. And as Prime Minister Jospin pointed out, also in Aachen yesterday, these are not simply crimes against the Kosovar Albanians, they are crimes against humanity in the broadest sense. We will also continue to insist that President Milosevic must withdraw all of his forces from Kosovo and allow an international presence and that every refugee, every single one, must have the unrestricted right to return home. And then finally that Belgrade should work with us, with the international community, to find a permanent political solution based on the Rambouillet peace plan.

So the demands of today are exactly the same as the demands of yesterday and until they are accepted NATO will carry out more operations like the one that we saw in the last 24 hours. During the last 24 hours NATO Air Forces flew 679 sorties and this is the most sorties of any 24 hour period in the campaign thus far. There were 327 strike sorties performed also in the last 24 hours as part of those 679 sorties, which again is another high figure. Of those, 237 were strike sorties against ground targets and 90 were against the integrated air defence system, suppression of air defences, and that is the type of breakdown which has been characteristic of the operations over the last few days.

I hope, as always, that all of you have received our morning written up-date so you have the basic targets that were attacked last night. I don't therefore need to repeat them. I just want to emphasise that we attacked a very complete range of targets last night, including tanks, armoured vehicles, artillery pieces, a surface to air missile battery, several radar sites, troop staging areas and troops themselves.

We also continued our pattern of strikes against strategic targets to disrupt the entire Yugoslav military command and control structure and to keep the Serb forces in Kosovo cut off from their Commanders and of course inaccessible to supplies, and we attacked 5 different power generation facilities, 3 airfields, 3 military radio relay sites, 2 highway bridges, a petroleum storage site and a munitions storage site. Those details of course are in the paper.

All aircraft I am pleased to say once again returned safely, although one unmanned reconnaissance drone was lost over Kosovo for reasons that we are still examining. And for those of you who like statistics, so far since the beginning of Operation Allied Force we have conducted 20,772 sorties, 7,135 of which have been strike sorties.

So that is what I have for you for now but obviously at 3.00 pm we will be back with General Jertz and myself for the usual up-date. And just to give you the complete information, the Deputy Secretary of State, Strobe Talbott, is currently consulting with the NATO Ambassadors and the Secretary General on the results of his recent trip to Russia.

Nick : I have a list of questions here. First of all, on the overnight attacks can you say what was attacked in and around Belgrade, if anything. And the power generation facilities, were they soft bomb attacks, the soft bombs that we have heard about? One point of clarification, reference to remarks General Jertz made on the number of heavy equipment destroyed in Kosovo, he said yesterday that that had risen over the last week from 306 to 432. In his original remarks on 6 May I think he said of all equipment destroyed the total was around 300, of which 200 were heavy equipment, so I don't know if it is possible to clarify that at some point? And on the sorties, were the 327 strike sorties, was that also the highest of the campaign so far in terms of actual strike sorties?

Jamie Shea: Those are all perfectly legitimate questions to which I will try to give good answers, try. First of all Belgrade, I understand it was power facilities in the suburbs, in the environs of Belgrade. As for the question of soft bombs, I will let you draw your own conclusions there because you saw a familiar phenomenon to what occurred a few days ago in terms of power outages across the whole transmission belt.

Regarding the question of the breakdown as you know, and General Jertz has made this clear, when we talk about military equipment we count things like tanks, artillery, of course pieces, armoured vehicles and also military trucks which of course are extensively used by the Army, and I will ask General Jertz this afternoon when he comes up to give you a breakdown of what is in that figure of 432, the ratio between if you like tanks and artillery and the heavy things, transporters and the rest, and the other trucks and vehicles.

On the 327 sorties, I will also ask General Jertz to confirm if indeed this was the highest figure, but just off the top of my head it is certainly among the highest figures, because if you look at the numbers of sorties last night and strike sorties, you are about 50%, whereas up until now the average has been around one-third if you look at the overall statistics, just slightly up of one-third. So it does seem that there is a pattern, and I have noticed this myself over the last few days, of the percentage of strike sorties in sorties going higher. I think you can interpret this as being the result of better weather conditions and also being able to deploy more aircraft on a 24 hour basis in the skies to look at targets of opportunities as they become available. In other words, if a tank moves we want an aircraft up there to move as well. That is what we are able to do more successfully now with the additional assets and the increasing focus on the forces on the ground in Kosovo itself.

John Dahlburg, Los Angeles Times: I know NATO says it doesn't have any quarrel with the Yugoslav people, and obviously power generation facilities are being used by the military, but these attacks are also having a huge effect on civilians. Is this part of a campaign that NATO is going to be enlarging to also include other things, water facilities, things like that that will make the people of Yugoslavia more deprived?

Jamie Shea: John, again, we have no quarrel with the Yugoslav people, and I have said that, but if you look at the inconvenience suffered from NATO activities, I believe it is still the case that by far the greatest part of the problems that the Yugoslavs face in their daily lives come not from NATO but from Milosevic's rule. For example pensioners rarely get their pensions, people are paid months late. They have to go about with a per capita income of about $1,400 which is one of the lowest in Europe. Because of the petrol being given to the Army they can't run their cars and so on any more. So if you look at the daily toll of misery of a Yugoslav citizen, much more comes from the chronic misrule of 10 years under the Belgrade regime than the temporary inconvenience of NATO activities, even though of course any inconvenience is something that we regret, but that is the consequence of Milosevic's actions.

But it is nothing, or at least it is small, compared with the disruption of those Yugoslav citizens who happen to be of ethnic Albanian origin in Kosovo itself because what they are facing is not an inconvenience, it is a campaign of forced expulsion and massacre and of great brutality and I think we have to bear that in mind. But again if Milosevic, and I have to come back to this point time and time again, had decided to seek a diplomatic solution in the months, and months, and months that we negotiated with him before 24 March, then none of this would have happened, there would not have been all of these additional sanctions that have been imposed on his country by the EU and by the United Nations and entire international community, there would not have been NATO airstrikes, there would have been peace in Kosovo and the people of Yugoslavia would have been the main beneficiaries of all of this.

But Milosevic has continued to want war in his own country and well before NATO began he was spending more and more of the gross national product. Here you have a bankrupt country and yet still its leader wants to spend upwards of $2 million a day of money that he doesn't have, keeping a massive force in Kosovo. So I believe that Milosevic is responsible for whatever suffering his own people are going through at the present time.

John Dahlburg, Los Angeles Times: Is NATO expanding its bombing to more dual-use civilian military targets?

Jamie Shea: No, the type of targets that we are going after are exactly the same targets that have been on the list for weeks already. And again, let me state this once more just so there is no misunderstanding, these are all military targets, legitimate military targets. NATO does not strike anything which is not directly connected with fuelling the Yugoslav war machine, it has to have a military rationale to be on the list.

Gyorgy Foris, Magyar Nemzet TV: What was the exact reasoning in the intention to switch off the lights again now? The first time when NATO did it the argument was that you wanted to show that you are able to do, and it is a kind of psychological effect, otherwise it could be repaired within hours. This time you just wanted to shock or were there other reasons?

Jamie Shea: George, all of this has a good military rationale. The electricity drives the air defence system, it drives the military command posts, it drives the military communications system, it drives the intelligence system, and so we want to disrupt the command and control of the Yugoslav forces. Look the Yugoslav forces, as I say here every day, are still continuing to operate in Kosovo against the Kosovo Liberation Army and that means that they must still be receiving communications, they still receive orders from their Commanders back in Yugoslavia and that is what we want to disrupt, those type of communications which cannot take place of course without electricity. And we disrupt severely those command and control arrangements when we undertake these kind of operations.

George Foris: But in this case you should do it each night otherwise it doesn't make sense?

Jamie Shea: There is no need to do it each night. The last time we did it the effects lasted for five days before the Yugoslav military was able to improvise some alternative arrangements. So it has a knock-on effect through the system and disruption of the military command and control is our business at the moment, until such time as Milosevic accepts the key conditions.

Jake Lynch, Sky News: During those 5 days did you pick up any evidence that military activities on the ground in Kosovo had stopped? There is the suspicion that the Yugoslav Army must have banked on having to do without centralised systems like command and control in the first place and therefore devised a modus operandi to allow them to continue operating even without it?

Jamie Shea: Jake, this is a highly centralised army, a highly centralised system which gets its orders from the top. The Commanders are not operating autonomously in Kosovo doing their own thing, they are following the orders they get from the top, which means they get the communications from the top, and that is what we are trying to disrupt and will continue to disrupt.

Question: When will NATO finish reviewing its plans for KFOR and will that be before the G8 Summit in Cologne, and have you any indiciation, a breakdown of numbers and countries involved yet? And regarding border posts, could you specify which countries the border posts are bordering with?

Jamie Shea: First of all on KFOR we are currently intensively reviewing the KFOR planning because we are mindful of the fact that we have to be ready to contribute to an international security presence which has to be based on a NATO core, NATO command and control arrangements, and we want that to be in place. And we also of course are looking at things like the size of the force and we are looking at the tasking of the force. We have done a lot of planning thus far but the planning that we started out with was based on the assumptions of last July and last October. And of course much has changed in Kosovo since then, unfortunately for the worst, and so we have to look to what degree there may be extra duties that that force will have to be called on to perform, particularly in a temporary or in a transitional phase, until such time as the other international organisations are able to set themselves up in Kosovo and the transitional authority which is currently being foreseen can establish itself and begin to administer the country. We obviously have to be mindful of the need to look at mines, look at law and order functions, look at the need to return refugees, perhaps the need for a winterisation programme so that those refugees can be returned home before the onset of bad weather. There are things like lines of communication, food supplies, there is a lot that needs to be done.

And therefore the question is how much of these jobs/tasks should be given to the military, how many of these tasks could be handled by other international organisations, like the UNHCR, the EU, the OSCE and the rest. So we are looking at this intensively at the moment and of course the tasks, once they are decided upon, will determine the force levels. I can't give you a number until we know exactly what the specific tasks are, in addition to the traditional role of KFOR that was always foreseen which was to establish an environment of security, an environment of protection so that people can return home free of the threat of force being used against them, free of intimidation. So I will have more to say as the planning goes ahead, but the planning is going ahead at the moment.

As for the border posts, as you know that was along the border between Kosovo and Albania.

RTL: Est-ce que les pilotes qui ont oprs hier ont enregistrs une quelconque riposte de la dfense anti-arienne serbe ou a-t-elle encore t pratiquement inexistante et est ce qu'on sait vraiment si c'est par ruse qu'elle n'est pas utilise ou est ce que c'est vraiment parce que le systme est touch par l'OTAN?

Jamie Shea: Non, le systme de dfense intgr arien de Yugoslavie a t srieusement endommag par l'OTAN, surtout en ce qui concerne la direction centrale et le systme de ce qu'on appelle en anglais le "tracking radars". L nous avons obtenu de srieux rsultats mais c'est un systme que nous continuons respecter parce que les yougoslaves ont beaucoup de missiles, beaucoup de radars et galement des systmes mobiles, comme les "manpads", c'est--dire, les SA 17. Donc pour cette raison nous avons toujours, avec chaque vol de l'OTAN, ce que nous appellons dans le jargon anglais "le SEAD", le "Suppression of Enemy Air Defence" et les systmes de contre mesure lectronique pour assurer un environnement de securit nos pilotes le plus optimal possible. Mais il y a de fortes variations dans l'activit arienne yougoslave, parfois quelques nuits c'est trs intense, comme s' ils veulent tout prix essayer avoir des succs contre nos avions, succs qui ont t plutt luds jusqu' prsent, d'autres jours c'est moins intense. Vous pouvez demander Belgrade pourquoi cette variation.

Christopher: Jamie, either now or this afternoon, could you give us a little bit more about what is going on with the diplomatic process here? I understand that there are the five points and they are immutable and so on, but within the five points there are lots of modalities, a lot of questions arise. Can you for instance tell us if Rambouillet remains the basic framework that is being used, something like appendix B in Rambouillet which basically gives NATO forces the run of Yugoslavia would be something that would be insisted on or is that the kind of thing that is under discussion? And also is there any kind of direct discussion going on with the Yugoslav government about any of this at this point?

Jamie Shea: Your last question is the easiest to answer. No, at least as far as NATO is concerned, we are not in any direct negotiations with Belgrade on these five conditions, they have to accept them, period, and we are not going to back off from that.

As for what you might call the instrumentalisation, for want of a better word, of how you put the five principles into concrete action, that is something which is going to have to be worked up in the framework of the G8 discussions, and I understand the meeting now which we though might happen today has been postponed until next week, of Political Directors of the G8 who are going to be doing that work and of course there are lots of things to talk about in this connection. For example the nature of a transitional authority and who would be in charge. The UN, OSCE, EU have been mentioned but that of course is something that would have to be defined. And the particular tasks of the transitional authority. The nature and the composition of the international security force, beyond what we agree which is that it has to have a NATO core and have robust rules of engagement and a NATO command and control arrangement.

And then answers to questions there, the particular tasks of that international security force, the more long standing tasks, the more transitional tasks, until such time as the transitional authority would be established. The arrangements for the return of refugees. Clearly there are a lot of detailed things that have to be looked at. The idea therefore is to have a UN Security Council resolution which of course would endorse the five principles, as agreed by the G8, and at the same time that the G8 countries, NATO and Russia, would work together on some kind of implementation plan or roadmap which would describe how these various tasks and according to which phases would take place. But those discussions are ongoing at the moment as we well know.

Christopher: So we are talking to the Russians in lieu of the Yugoslavs on this question?

Jamie Shea: The point is that the most essential thing is that Russia and the Allies have a common understanding of how we are going to deal with these issues, particularly as we want Russia to be very much involved. Once that common understanding is achieved, obviously it will be one further indication to Milosevic that he has no alternative but to accept these five conditions.

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