We all know the story well because we flogged Wes Clark with it in 2004. June 12, 1999. Priština International Airport.
Details of Russia's surprise occupation of Pristina airport at the end of the Kosovo war are revealed in a new BBC documentary on the conflict.
For the first time, the key players in the tense confrontation between Nato and Russian troops talk about the stand-off which jeopardised the entire peacekeeping mission...
General Wesley Clark, Nato's supreme commander, immediately ordered 500 British and French paratroopers to be put on standby to occupy the airport. ...
But General Clark's plan was blocked by General Sir Mike Jackson, K-For's British commander.
"I'm not going to start the Third World War for you," he reportedly told General Clark during one heated exchange.
General Jackson tells the BBC: ''We were [looking at] a possibility....of confrontation with the Russian contingent which seemed to me probably not the right way to start off a relationship with Russians who were going to become part of my command.''
Seeing the behavior of Russia towards every state which borders it, one is left with the inescapable conclusion that Russia learned on that June day nearly a decade ago that it could as it damned well pleased and the West would foul itself of the thought of action.
Our, to date, craven behavior in addressing Russian violation of Georgia's territorial integrity and the reckless targeting of civilians in Georgia bodes ill for our strategy of pushing democratic values eastward into the former Soviet Union. Why would Ukraine or the Baltic States resist Russian pressure when they know, based on this, that Russia is perfectly capable of creating thousands of ersatz "citizens" and rolling tanks to protect their whims while the West stands by sucking its collective thumb? I certainly wouldn't recommend that course of action to them.
Instead nearly ten years ago we had the chance to apply a newspaper to Putin's nose in very low risk and easily manageable situation. There were a handful of Russians, a lot of us, they were a long way from home and the odds of them fighting were virtually nil. We elected not to do so. Now Georgia, and in the near future other Western leaning nations in that region, will pay a heavy price.