Historically and politically, the Bosnians and the Russians are a
perfect match.This history started in the middle of the first thousand
years A.D. when the tribes called the Southern Slavs migrated into the
southeast area of Europe known as the Balkans. The Slav people as they
are known, were separated from the Northern Slavs, that is, related

Slavs in Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Russia, by the non-slavic tribes
that settled the lands of Austria and Hungary. The Bosnians original
ancestors were the Southern Slavs. They raided areas throught the

Balkans including what is now modern day Serbia.This tribe eventually
split up, mostly for religious and political reasons but also because
the geography of the region is such that large groups of Slavs became
separated and isolated from one another because of the difficult
terrain. When religion came to the Balkans, where you were physically
had as much to do with what religion you grew up with as other
reasons. The Serbs who were closest to the Byzantine Empire
geographically, took up the Eastern Orthodox Religion. The peoples in
what is now Croatia, Slovinia and Bosina were infuenced by Rome and
took up Roman Catholicisim. However, the Bosnians, who were alwasys
being threathned politically by the Orthodox Christian Serbs as well
as their Roman Catholic neighbors, by the fifteenth century had made
apolitical decision to align themselves with the rising power of the

Ottoman Empire, and converted to Islam. Russia, the country where most
of the Southern Slavs came from had accepted the Eastern Orthodox
religion at around the time the Serbs did. This religious bond between

Russians and Serbs was very strong and the two groups supported one
another for virtually their entire history up to and including modern
times. The Serbs supported the Russians in almost all their wars and
helped the Russians gain control of part of the Eastern Mediterraen
from the Turks. This is why the Russians are deeply interested in this
area and feel they have a special role to play in the current
conflict.

The Balkans are the reason that World War I had started. The Serbs of

1914 was as determined then, as they were for centuries, of preserving
their independence in the Balkans. A wider war in the Balkans could
risk the security of Europe, and possibly draw Moslen nations into the
war. On a more imeadiate level, the reason for peace in Bosnia is so
urgent is because cities, roads, bridges, have been destroyed in the
conflict. A good example of this is Sarajevo, ( a major muslim city)
that was known for its cultural mixture. It was the site of the 1988
winter olympics which welcomed hunreds of atlethes from all over the
globe. The city is on the Bosinian-Serb border and has been shelled by
both sides in the war. However, a far more important reason is to
prevent this local war from starting a wider confrontation that would
risk the security of Europe, and possibly draw in Moslem nations to
support the Muslims in Bosnia.

Russian soldiers are going to be among the troops keeping peace in

Sarajevo as well as in other towns in Bosnia. The rusians are trying
to improve relations with the U. S. and are doing so by working with
the U.S. on keeping peace in the Balkans. Both President Yeltsin of

Russia and Clinton Of the U.S., have met several times over this
issue. They decide that a good way to improve rlations betwen the two
countries. Part of the debate over rusian troops betwen Russia and
the U.S. was who mwould command the Russsian troops if they were sent.

The Russians did not want teir troops under a NATO command because
they thought that Nato was anti- Russian. Another topic of their
debate was where were the Russian troops to be deployed. The russians
wnated to be deployed in Bosnian Serb teritory, and the U.S. wanted
them deployed in Bosnian Croat territory. Finally an agreement was
reached. The Russians would send fifteenhundred troops to Bosnia. They
were scheduled to arrive in mid-December 1995. Both sides agreed that
the Russian troops would report to their own commander, General Leonti

P. Shetsov. Shetsov had worked with Nato in the past as well as the

U.S. military and was sen as a good fit. He however would still be
technically under Nato command as it is Nato that is overseeing the
operation. Further the Russians are contributing troops to an
international brigage that would include troops from France, the U.S.
and other countries. After much debate it was agreed that the Russians
would be deployed in the corridor that separates eastern and western
parts of Serbian controlled Bosnia.