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1999: The Big One

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On July 12, 1999, 200 Russian airborne troops arrived in Yugoslavia to assist Serbia and occupied Pristina International Airport before the arrival of NATO forces just after the end of the Kosovo War. The incident grew into a tense stand-off with Russian forces as General Wesley Clark demanded that British General Sir Mike Jackson storm the airport with paratroopers, and this is where the Point of Divergence began. Jackson decided to comply with Clark's demand and ordered that paratroopers storm the airport with British armor and tanks piggybacking on the assault. This led to the Battle of Pristina Airport and the beginning of a major conflict.


Introduction

July 12, 1999. One day after the end of the Kosovo War. A contingent of 200 Russian troops deployed in Bosnia and Herzegovina then crossed into Kosovo and occupied the international airport in Pristina, Kosovo's capital, ahead of the arrival of NATO forces. NATO Command had closed airspace, restricting the sending of supplies and ammunition from Russia to Serbia. Just one day earlier, a NATO-Russian peacekeeping force was to be installed in Kosovo, but Russia's expectations of a NATO independent peacekeeping sector were shattered as NATO refused to do so, causing friction between the two factions.

Hearing of the Russian deployment, NATO commander Wesley Clark called NATO-Secretary General Javier Solana and told him to "transfer authority" in the area and ordered a contingent of 500 British and French paratroopers to forcefully seize the airport. The Point of Divergence began when British General Sir Mike Jackson complied with the Clark's orders and allowed the paratroopers to storm the airport, leading to the beginning of World War III.

The first battle of World War III was the Battle of Pristina Airport, which began as soon as the British and French paratroopers entered the airport and opened fire on the Russians. With over 500 soldiers of NATO against 200 soldiers of Russia, there wasn't any doubt that the Russians would lose the airport. Only 19 Russian troops remained and were forced to surrender as NATO forces liberated the airport. During their overtaking of the airport, NATO forces were attacked by the Serbians.

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