War In The Balkans: From the massacre in Raccak to submission in Belgrade

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The Independent Online
15 January

The massacre of 45 ethnic Albanian villagers at Racak by Serbian Interior Ministry police shatters the ceasefire agreed in October and renews the threat of Nato bombing.

6 February

Serbian and Albanian negotiators, summoned by Western powers, begin peace negotiations at the chateau of Rambouillet, near Paris.

19 March

Kosovo Albanians unilaterally sign peace deal calling for a broad interim autonomy and 28,000 Nato troops to implement it. Serbs refuse; talks suspended.

20 March

International peace monitors evacuate Kosovo, as Yugoslav forces build up and launch offensives against rebels.

23 March

The US special envoy, Richard Holbrooke (right) gives President Slobodan Milosevic final warning of war, but secures no concessions.

24 March

Nato launches scattered air strikes across Yugoslavia as EU leaders meet. Belgrade declares state of war. Yevgeny Primakov, then Russian Prime Minister, turns around his aircraft over the Atlantic while on the way to Washington for talks on international loans.

27 March

Ethnic Albanians fleeing or expelled from Kosovo start pouring into Albania and Macedonia.

30 March

Russian Prime Minister, Yevgeny Primakov visits Belgrade and is seen laughing and joking with Milosevic.

6 April

Serbia declares unilateral ceasefire ahead of Orthodox Easter, brushed aside by Nato. Kosovo Albanians form a government in exile run by the KLA.

13 April

"Co-operative" talks in Oslo between Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov give the first sign Moscow is abandoning unquestioning support of Milosevic.

14 April

President Boris Yeltsin appoints former prime minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, seen as less pro-Milosevic than Primakov, as Russia's Balkans envoy.

24/25 April

Nato summit in Washington. Tony Blair fails to persuade allies to launch ground war.

6 May

Group of Seven leading industrial powers and Russia (the G8), agree in Bonn on blueprint for ending the war.

7 May

Nato bombing of Chinese embassy in Belgrade derails peace effort. Russia and China denounce Nato, and angry crowds demonstrate outside US and British embassies in Peking.

10 May

Yugoslavia says it is withdrawing some forces from Kosovo. Major Western powers dismiss the statement.

12 May

Search for peace further complicated as Yeltsin sacks Primakov and appoints Sergei Stepashin as Prime Minister

14 May

President Martti Ahtisaari of Finland, a former career UN diplomat, is brought into the peace process and meets UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in the Netherlands. Ahtisaari, US Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott and Chernomyrdin begin criss-crossing Europe as momentum towards a peace deal builds up.

15 May

Nato admits bombing Kosovo village of Korisa (right) but rejects blame for 87 civilian deaths

24 May

Head of UN fact-finding mission, Sergio Vieira de Mello, says he saw "revolting" evidence of ethnic cleansing after visit to Kosovo.

25 May

Nato allies agree to increase to about 48,000 the ground force being assembled for eventual use in Kosovo. Spokesman Jamie Shea says the war has reached "the end of the beginning" and all conditions for victory are in place.

27 May

UN war crimes tribunal indicts Milosevic and four others for crimes against humanity.

28 May

Official Yugoslav news agency Tanjug says Yugoslavia accepts "the general principles" agreed by the Group of Eight as a basis for bringing peace to Kosovo.

2 June

Ahtisaari (left) and Chernomyrdin leace Bonn for Belgrade after a delay caused by last-minute talks on the shape of peace proposals. They have first round of meetings with Milosevic

3 June

After further talks with Milosevic, peace plan is passed by Serbian parliament, and Belgrade accepts it.