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Tuesday, April 13, 1999 Published at 07:18 GMT 08:18 UK


World: Europe

US to allay Russian fears

Further Nato reinforcements are being sent to southern Europe

By BBC regional reporter Tom de Waal

The meeting between Igor Ivanov and Madeleine Albright is not just about the situation in Kosovo.

Kosovo: Special Report
The Americans are also worried about the way the Nato campaign has changed the mood inside Russia itself.

Since Nato began its air-strikes anti-Western views have become much stronger in the media and in parliament.

The choice of Oslo for the meeting is also significant.

Norway is the current chairman of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and Russia is seeking greater OSCE involvement in the crisis.

If an international force in Kosovo could formally be commanded by the OSCE, not Nato, that would remove one of Moscow's main objections to current peace proposals.

Russia united

On the surface the conflict has united Russian opinion as never before.

Polls show that 92% of Russians are against the Nato campaign.

But that is where the consensus ends.

The parliamentary opposition wants actively to help the Serbs - with arms if need be.

The official government position is that the bombing must stop but Russia will not get involved.

In a strange way the crisis has helped President Yeltsin.

He has frequently been seen on television in the last few days and he has now seen the collapse of an attempt to start impeachment proceedings against him, while the Kosovo crisis continues.

Mr Yeltsin still puts great store by his relations with Western leaders and he is obviously hoping for some new gestures of support from the Americans.



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