Like a stung bear, RussiaÂ's actions in Kosovo have been described as erratic, even dangerous, sending in 200 combat troops ahead of NATO to take over PristinaÂ's airport, then grudgingly allowing British troops entry, but only to some parts of the base.
Now the agreement on joint Kosovo peacekeeping, reached after weeks of negotiation in Helsinki, is showing signs of strain.
The Russians -- seen by many as an ailing, failing superpower -- have been demanding access, among other things, to the Italian sector, home to many Serb religious and historical sites. NATO refuses.
NATO Supreme Commander Gen. Wesley Clark said Moscow has made efforts to present modifications or new interpretations of issues previously agreed at Helsinki. Â"We deflected those attempts,Â" he said.
But Kosovo is not the only place NATO has had to deflect RussiaÂ's muscle flexing. Two Russian bombers flew so close to the coast of Iceland that U.S. forces escorted them back down. Then Russian bombers did it again, buzzing NorwayÂ's coast. Norwegian jets escorted them out of their air space.
YeltsinÂ's statements on these incidents have gone from defiant to semi-conciliatory. But the Russian military Â– still armed with some 20,000 nuclear weapons - offers no apologies.
Thousands of Russian peacekeepers are due to join international peacekeepers in Kosovo shortly. The advance team has been preparing the way at the airport and speaking of professionalism and cooperation.
But if Russian troops try to move into territory where they are uninvited, Â'Cold WarÂ' may indeed prove a phrase for a bygone age; temperatures in Kosovo are going to rise.
Reported by Kimberly Dozier
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