Pristina International Airport, where the incident happened.
Date 12-26 June, 1999
Location Pristina International Airport, Pristina, Kosovo
Result Russians gain airport
The Incident at Pristina was a confrontation between the NATO forces and Russian forces over the Pristina International Airport in the aftermath of the Kosovo War. The Russians beat the NATO troops to the airport and gained control of it.
The Kosovo War ended on June 11, 1999. The NATO commander-in-chief, Wesley Clark, ordered Sir Mike Jackson to take over the Pristina International Airport in Pristina, the capital city of Kosovo. On 12–26 June 1999, Russian and NATO forces had a standoff over the airport. NATO forces were tasked with seizing the airport, however the Russians, of which there were approximately 200, beat the NATO task force to the airport and thus gained control of the airfield.
In response, American NATO commander Wesley Clark demanded that British General Sir Mike Jackson storm the airport with paratroopers, an order that is still debated. Jackson refused, reportedly replying, "I'm not going to start the Third World War for you".
After securing an agreement by which Russian forces would be integrated into peacekeeping duties, independent of NATO, Pristina Airport was reactivated by 53 Field Squadron (Air Support) Royal Engineers as a military airbase on 15 October 1999 and then started to operate international air transport to several European cities. During that period of time the Russian KFOR along with other NATO forces were in charge for security of the airport. Airport Pristina initially began its operations with 45 employees.