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Battle of the Barracks
Part of the Croatian War of Independence
Serb T-55 Battle of the Barracks.JPG
Destroyed Yugoslav Army T-55 tank
Date14 September – 23 November 1991
LocationCroatia
Result Croatian victory
Belligerents
Croatia Croatian National Guard (until November 1991)
Croatia Croatian Army (from November 1991)
Croatia Croatian Police
Yugoslav People's Army, Navy and Air Force
Commanders and leaders
Croatia Anton Tus Veljko Kadijević
Casualties and losses
Unknown Unknown casualties
Captured:
250 tanks
400–500 artillery pieces
36 naval vessels
180,000 small arms
3,000 JNA officers changed their allegiance to Croatia


The Battle of the Barracks (Croatian language: Bitka za vojarne ) was a series of engagements between the Croatian National Guard (Zbor narodne garde – ZNG, later renamed the Croatian Army) and the Croatian police on one side and the Yugoslav People's Army (Jugoslovenska Narodna Armija – JNA) on another in September–November 1991. The battle took place around numerous JNA posts throughout Croatia, starting with Croatian forces blockading the JNA barracks, weapons storage depots and other facilities. It formally began on 14 September, and its objective was to neutralise the JNA positions in the ZNG-held territory and secure arms and ammunition to the poorly equipped ZNG.

The Battle of the Barracks was an escalation of the conflict between Croatian authorities and the Croatian Serbs who openly revolted in August 1990 and the JNA efforts to preserve the Yugoslav federation. At the same time, Croatia made moves towards achieving its independence from Yugoslavia. The Battle of the Barracks briefly preceded the start of the JNA's campaign in Croatia—itself amended in early September to add relief of the blockaded barracks to the operation plans. However, the JNA's advance was largely curbed by the ZNG, and it relieved only few JNA facilities.

The ZNG and the police captured small and isolated JNA posts, as well as a number of large weapons depots and barracks, including the entire 32nd (Varaždin) Corps of the JNA. The move provided the Croatian forces with a sizable stock of weapons, including 250 tanks, hundreds of artillery pieces and large supply of small arms and ammunition—proving crucial in defence against the JNA advances in the early stage of the Croatian War of Independence. Some of the JNA facilities surrendered without any fight, while others put up armed resistance to the takeover. In some places, this caused civilian casualties as the barracks were situated in urban areas. Legal charges of abuse or killing of captured JNA personnel, as well as charges with war crimes against civilian population were filed in Croatia, but most defendants remain at large.

In November, the JNA and Croatia reached several agreements to end the blockade and pull out the JNA out of Croatia. The pullout was completed by 4 January 1992, except in areas around Dubrovnik, and on the islands of Vis and Lastovo. The JNA maintained its presence there until the summer of 1992. As the JNA withdrew from the areas it controlled in Croatia, it was replaced by the UN peacekeepers agreed upon by the Vance plan.

Background

In 1990, following the electoral defeat of the government of the Socialist Republic of Croatia, ethnic tensions worsened. The Yugoslav People's Army (Jugoslovenska Narodna Armija – JNA) confiscated Croatia's Territorial Defence (Teritorijalna obrana – TO) weapons to minimize resistance.[1] On 17 August, the tensions escalated into an open revolt of the Croatian Serbs,[2] centred on the predominantly Serb-populated areas of the Dalmatian hinterland around Knin, (approximately 60 kilometres (37 miles) northeast of Split),[3] parts of the Lika, Kordun, Banovina and eastern Croatia.[4] Serbia, supported by Montenegro and Serbia's provinces of Vojvodina and Kosovo unsuccessfully tried to obtain Yugoslav Presidency's approval of a JNA operation to disarm Croatian security forces in January 1991.[5] The denied request, and a bloodless skirmish between Serb insurgents and Croatian special police in March,[6] prompted the JNA itself to ask the federal Presidency to give it wartime authorities and declare a state of emergency. Even though the request was backed by Serbia and its allies, the JNA was denied on 15 March. Serbian President Slobodan Milošević, preferring a campaign to expand Serbia rather than to preserve Yugoslavia with Croatia as a federal unit, publicly threatened to replace the JNA with a Serbian army and declared that he no longer recognized authority of the federal Presidency. The threat caused the JNA to gradually abandon plans to preserve Yugoslavia in favour of expansion of Serbia as the JNA came under Milošević's control.[7] By the end of the month, the conflict had escalated to the first fatalities.[8] In early April, leaders of Serb revolt in Croatia declared their intention of integration of the area under their control, viewed by the Government of Croatia as a breakaway region, with Serbia.[9]

In the beginning of 1991, Croatia had no regular army. In an effort to bolster its defence, Croatia doubled police personnel to about 20,000. The most effective part of the force was 3,000-strong special police deployed in twelve battalions adopting military organization of the units. In addition there were 9,000–10,000 regionally organized reserve police. The reserve police was set up in 16 battalions and 10 companies, but the reserve force lacked weapons.[10] As a response to the deteriorating situation, the Croatian government established the Croatian National Guard (Zbor narodne garde – ZNG) in May.[11] This was achieved by amalgamation of the special police battalions into four all-professional guards brigades consisting at that point of approximately 8,000 troops combined, and their subordination to the Ministry of Defence headed by retired JNA General Martin Špegelj. The regional police, expanded to 40,000 by then, was also attached to the ZNG and reorganized in 19 brigades and 14 independent battalions. However the guards brigades were the only units of the ZNG that were fully armed with small arms, while heavier weapons, as well as a command and control structure were lacking throughout the ZNG.[10] The shortage of heavy weapons was so severe that the ZNG resorted to use of World War II weapons taken from museums and film studios.[12] At the time, Croatian stockpile of weapons consisted of 30,000 small arms purchased abroad in addition to 15,000 previously owned by the police. A new 10,000-strong special police was established then to replace the personnel lost to the guards brigades.[10]

Prelude

Croatian view of the JNA's role in the Serb revolt gradually evolved in the January–September 1991. The initial plan of Croatian President Franjo Tuđman was to win support from the European Community (EC) and the United States for Croatia, and dismissed advice to seize JNA barracks and storage facilities in the country. Capturing the JNA barracks and storage depots was first advocated by Špegelj in late 1990. He urged Tuđman again to adopt the plan in early 1991, and in summer of that year while the JNA fought Slovenia's TO in the Ten-Day War in June–July 1991. His calls were echoed by Šime Đodan, who replaced Špegelj as the Defence Minister in July. Špegelj remained in command of the ZNG though.[13]

Tuđman's stance was motivated by his belief that Croatia could not win a war against the JNA. The ZNG was limited to defence even though actions of the JNA appeared coordinated with the Croatian Serb military.[13] The impression was reinforced by buffer zones the JNA established after armed conflicts between the Croatian Serb militia and the ZNG—the JNA intervened after the ZNG lost ground, leaving the Croatian Serbs in control of territory they captured before the JNA arrived. Furthermore, the JNA provided some weapons to the Croatian Serbs, although the bulk of the weaponry was provided from the Serbia's TO and Ministry of Internal Affairs stocks.[14]

In July 1991, Špegelj and Đodan's demands were backed up by a number of Croatian Parliament members during a parliamentary debate. This led Tuđman to sack Đodan the same month he was appointed the Defence Minister, and Špegelj resigned his post on 3 August. Nonetheless, deteriorating situation in the east of Croatia,[13] including JNA forces removing the ZNG from Baranja and intermittent fighting around Osijek, Vukovar and Vinkovci,[15] as well as increasing losses and growing conviction that the JNA actively supports the Croatian Serb revolt, forced Tuđman to act. On 22 August, he issued an ultimatum to the federal Yugoslav authorities demanding the JNA to withdraw to its barracks by the end of the month. The ultimatum stated if the JNA failed to comply, Croatia would consider the JNA an army of occupation and take corresponding action.[13] On 1 September, the EC proposed a cease-fire and a peace conference was accepted by Tuđman, despite his ultimatum demanding the JNA to return to its barracks by 31 August, and by the Yugoslav Presidency. The conference started on 7 September, but only four days later, the Croatian member and chair of the presidency, Stjepan Mesić, ordered the JNA to return to its barracks within 48 hours.[16] The move was motivated by Tuđman's impression that the conference would drag endlessly while the ZNG loses ground. Even though the order was disputed by other members of the body, it gave Croatia a justification to openly confront the JNA.[17]

Timeline

Battle of the Barracks is located in Croatia
Cro-occup-lines-Jan92.svg
Ploče
Varaždin
Čakovec
Koprivnica
Križevci
Bjelovar
Daruvar
Požega
Našice
Rogoznica
Trogir
Pula
Rijeka
Delnice
Zagreb
Osijek
Virovitica
Lastovo
Vis
Vukovar
Vinkovci
Slavonski Brod
Jastrebarsko
Karlovac
Ogulin
Otočac
Dubrovnik
Split
Šibenik
Zadar
Sisak
Petrinja
Gospić
Korčula
Sveti Rok
Knin
Sinj
Captured or evacuated facilities
Facilities kept by the JNA
Other (HV-held) cities
Selected JNA facilities in Croatia (JNA-held area shaded red), 4 January 1992

Prime Minister Franjo Gregurić proposed Tuđman to implement Špegelj's plan.[12] According to General Anton Tus, Tuđman ordered the ZNG to capture JNA barracks on 12 September, only to rescind the order the next day. The order was reinstated on 14 September after Tus pleaded with Tuđman to authorize the move, arguing that the ZNG is running out of time.[18] The same day, the ZNG and the Croatian police blockaded and cut utilities to all JNA facilities it had access to, beginning the Battle of the Barracks.[19] The move blockaded 33 large JNA garrisons in Croatia,[20] and numerous smaller facilities including border posts and weapons and ammunition storage depots.[19] The blockade forced the JNA to amend its campaign in Croatia plans to accommodate the new development.[21] Several JNA posts were attacked by the ZNG even before the blockade was officially sanctioned, largely in response to local battlefield situation. The first such incident was a failed attack on JNA barracks in Sinj on 25 August, in response to deterioration of ZNG positions in nearby village of Kijevo.[22] On 3 September, the ZNG captured a barracks in Sisak,[23] and on 13 September a weapons storage depot in Gospić area was captured amid fighting for control of the city.[24] A total of 21 M-84AB tanks were captured in a Đuro Đaković factory in May.[25] The tanks were supposed to be shipped to Kuwait, but a part of the shipment was kept by Croatia.[26] Furthermore, a train transporting JNA weapons from Slovenia to Serbia was captured in Slavonski Brod on 21 August. The ZNG seized its first anti-aircraft, anti-tank weapons, and artillery pieces there, while adding to its small stock of mortars.[12] The ZNG forces besieging the JNA facilities were largely drawn locally. Reinforcements deployed from other cities were relatively small.[27]

September

On 14 September, the same day the Croatian forces was ordered to blockade the JNA facilities, the ZNG and the police captured JNA barracks in Ploče,[28] one of several barracks in Gospić, and one in nearby Perušić.[24] In Otočac, north of Gospić, the JNA garrison also came under attack as the ZNG started to assault the barracks in the town.[29] Sopnica JNA depot near Zagreb was captured that day,[30] as well as a border post manned by the JNA on the Hungarian border near Pitomača.[31] In response to the blockade imposed against their barracks in Vukovar, the JNA dispatched a force to relieve the siege.[32] The next day, the ZNG and the police captured a JNA depot near Popovec,[30] west of Zagreb, and another near Slavonski Brod.[33] At the same time fighting erupted around JNA facilities in Varaždin,[34] and two JNA border posts were captured north of Virovitica.[35]

On 16 September, the Croatian forces captured one JNA barracks and another storage depot in Slavonski Brod,[33] two barracks in Ogulin, while fighting started around a JNA post in Oštarije.[36] In addition, Žrnovnica missile base was captured,[37] and JNA weapons storage facilities near Daruvar,[31] Otočac,[29] Križevci and Virovitica.[38] On 17 September, the Croatian forces captured JNA barracks in Daruvar,[39] Ogulin,[36] Čakovec, Križevci, Virovitica,[38] Požega,[40] as well as two JNA barracks situated in Šibenik–Rogoznica area, and one in Varaždin.[41][42] Also, a JNA depot was captured near Zagreb (Duboki Jarak).[30] On 18 September, three additional barracks in Varaždin surrendered,[43] an additional barracks near Rogoznica,[41] all remaining JNA facilities in Gospić,[24] two barracks in Đakovo and a nearby weapons storage facility,[44] a communications facility near Garešnica and dozens of border posts.[45]

On 19 September, ZNG clashed with the JNA garrison in Karlovac Logorište barracks,[46] and captured a communications facility at Platak near Rijeka,[47] and an additional JNA barracks and a storage depot in Varaždin, restricting the JNA to the barracks housing headquarters of the JNA Varaždin Corps.[42] By 20 September, when the JNA launched a campaign against the ZNG encompassing entire Croatia,[48] more than 60 JNA facilities in Croatia surrendered or were captured, including 15 barracks and 11 storage depots.[49] Capture of the barracks continued in Našice, where JNA barracks surrendered on 21 September.[50] The JNA Varaždin Corps surrendered the next day,[42] providing the ZNG with a major weapons cache.[51] In the first few days of the blockade, the Croatian forces also captured several small JNA posts in Split, but no large JNA facility in the city area.[52]

In mid-September, seven JNA facilities, including three barracks were captured in Zadar.[53] The most significant among them was "Turske kuće" barracks, containing a large cache of small arms and ammunition. The Yugoslav Air Force carried out air strikes against the facility the next day—following a pattern that was established at the time—to hinder removal of weapons from posts which JNA lost.[37] On 23 September, a ZNG assault on a large JNA weapons storage site in Sveti Rok, located between Gospić and Zadar, failed.[54] The two remaining JNA barracks under Croatian blockade—in Vinkovci and Osijek—were abandoned by the JNA by 26 September. The Osijek garrison managed to break out from the besieged barracks and join the JNA troops south and east of the city, while evacuation of the Vinkovci barracks was negotiated between Croatian authorities and the JNA.[55] The negotiations were initiated after the JNA 1st Guards Mechanised Division reached Vinkovci on 25 September, forcing the ZNG to accept the evacuation.[32] A JNA facility on the island of Korčula surrendered its equipment to the ZNG on 26 September.[56]

On 29 September, the Croatian forces captured two barracks and three storage depots in and around Bjelovar after a day-long fighting, while the fourth storage facility was blown up by its commanding officer, JNA Major Milan Tepić. The explosion killed all defenders and 11 in the besieging force. It was heard 20 kilometres (12 miles) away and caused damage in nearby villages.[45][57] The same day, a weapons storage facility in Koprivnica and a border post near Virovitica were captured by the ZNG and the Croatian police.[45] The JNA 73rd Motorized Brigade surrendered in Koprivnica the next day.[38]

On 14/15 September, Croatia seized DJČ-612 landing craft from the Yugoslav Navy in Vela Luka shipyard while it was undergoing repairs, and sailed the vessel the same night into the Cetina River.[58] On 16–22 September, the Croatian forces captured "Kuline" barracks in Šibenik and 15 Yugoslav Navy vessels based there, as well as further 19 vessels located in "Velimir Škorpik" shipyard, going through various stages of overhaul. The vessels, comprising approximately a quarter of the Yugoslav Navy assets, included: Vlado Ćetković (RTOP-402) Končar-class fast attack craft (renamed Šibenik (RTOP-21) later on), Velimir Škorpik (RČ-310) Osa-class missile boat, Partizan II (TČ-222) Shershen-class torpedo boat and Biokovo (PČ-171), Cer (PČ-180) and Durmitor (PČ-181) Mirna-class patrol boats.[59] Also, a ship in the final stages of construction was captured in the Kraljevica Shipyard the same month. She was launched in 1992 as Kralj Petar Krešimir IV (RTOP-11) missile boat.[47] In September, seven coastal artillery bases were captured in area of Šibenik, and on the islands of Šolta, Brač and Korčula.[59]

October

Map of the 1991 JNA campaign in Croatia plan

On 3 October, the Croatian forces captured "Joža Vlahović" JNA barracks in Koprivnica, and a communications post and a border post near the city.[31] The next day, JNA barracks in Sinj and its nearby land mine storage facility were abandoned after a negotiated agreement.[60] In early October, two JNA artillery regiments based in "Šepurine" barracks near Zadar broke through a siege laid around their base and joined JNA attack on the city. By 5 October, Zadar was completely surrounded by JNA forces, and the situation prompted Croatian authorities in the city to seek a cease-fire and negotiations.[61] The cease-fire was arranged the same day, while the negotiations, held on 7–9 October, brought about lifting of the JNA siege of Zadar and evacuation of the remaining JNA garrison and its equipment from the city.[62] The evacuation, involving seven JNA facilities, started on 11 October and took 15 days.[63] The agreement stipulated that the evacuated units would leave Croatian soil, and the JNA generally respected the obligation,[64] even though 20 truckloads of weapons were left to Serb population in Zadar hinterland.[65]

In the wake of the bombing of Banski dvori of 7 October, Croatian authorities instructed the ZNG to assault and capture JNA barracks in Zagreb area if commanders on the ground considered that possible. The instructions resulted in no attacks in Zagreb itself,[66] but JNA barracks in Samobor were captured by the Croatian forces on the day of the bombing.[67] The declaration of the independence of Croatia came into force the next day.[66]

On 13 October, Oštarije JNA barracks were largely destroyed by the JNA and abandoned,[36] and a JNA weapons storage facilities in Rijeka were damaged in a fire caused by a thunderstorm. Nonetheless, some weapons were taken away by the ZNG while the firefighters were called in to save individual storage structures. The next day, the JNA was moving the remaining weapons from the damaged storage elsewhere in the city. While a convoy of 18 trucks was moving through Rijeka, 15 vehicles carrying weapons were diverted and captured by the ZNG.[47] At the same time, "Borongaj" JNA barracks in Zagreb were allowed to evacuate in return for free passage of a humanitarian aid carrying convoy to Vukovar, where the battle to control the city was in progress.[68]

November

After a period of siege with little or no activity, the JNA forces in "Logorište" barracks in Karlovac area broke through the blockade towards the JNA-held territory to the east of the city on 4–6 November. Even though the Croatian forces besieging the barracks were more numerous, the JNA had superiority in armour and artillery supporting the operation.[69] After it was abandoned by the JNA, the barracks still contained weapons which were taken away by the Croatian troops until November 13.[70] The Croatian Army (Hrvatska vojska – HV), as the ZNG was renamed in early November, captured "Jamadol" barracks and storage facility in Karlovac on 4 November, while the fighting around the "Logorište" was in progress,[71] and the following day, the HV captured JNA barracks and several weapons storage facilities in Delnice.[72] The attacks were ordered to capture ammunition needed by the HV as its stockpile was running low.[73]

On 8 November, Davorin Rudolf, representing Croatian authorities, and the JNA Lieutenant Colonel General Marijan Čad, commanding officer of the 13th (Rijeka) Corps, made an agreement to evacuate the corps personnel and equipment from Croatia. The agreement, made after negotiations supervised and supported by the European Community Monitor Mission (ECMM) would later serve as a model for subsequent similar agreements elsewhere in Croatia.[74] Čad made the agreement at his own initiative, with support of the JNA Fifth Military District, after receiving an order from the JNA Chief of Staff Colonel General Blagoje Adžić to destroy the JNA facilities in Rijeka and attack industrial plants and infrastructure in or near the city.[75] The agreement was not affected by the HV capture of "Draga" barracks and weapons stored there on 9 November. The JNA 13th (Rijeka) Corps started to evacuate by sea to Montenegrin ports on 18 November.[47]

Following negotiations, the JNA evacuated Jastrebarsko barracks on 13 November. The garrison left, under ECMM escort, to Bosnia and Herzegovina.[76] The next day, an agreement was made in village of Žitnić near Drniš regarding evacuation of the JNA from Šibenik.[77] Yugoslav Navy bombardment of Split, Šolta and Brač of 15 November, in response to loss of Mukos (PČ-176) patrol boat, and the subsequent Battle of the Dalmatian channels appeared to have derailed the Žitnić agreement.[78]

Another agreement was signed in Žitnić on 21 November by Rudolf and the JNA Maritime-Military District commanding officer, Major General Nikola Mladenić regarding evacuation of the JNA and the Yugoslav Navy from the Šibenik–Split area and surrender of the confiscated TO weapons stored there. It was followed by another agreement to the same effect in Split two days later by Mladenić and Croatian Admiral Sveto Letica, defining that the pullout should be completed within 30 days. The agreement also provided for a cease-fire in the northern Dalmatia and lifting of Yugoslav Navy blockade of the Croatian coast. The agreement did not include evacuation of the Yugoslav Navy from its bases on the islands of Vis and Lastovo though.[79] Throughout the process, tensions remained high, and the JNA made contingency plans to break through from Knin to Šibenik and Split and relieve siege of its forces there—codenamed Operation Coast-91 (Operacija Obala-91) and Operation Hurricane-91 (Operacija Orkan-91) respectively.[77]

On 22 November, Croatian authorities and the JNA signed an agreement on evacuation of all remaining JNA forces from Croatia. The agreement was signed in Zagreb, by HV Colonel Imra Agotić and Lieutenant Colonel General Andrija Rašeta in presence of the ECMM monitors. The agreement was confirmed the next day in Geneva, Switzerland, when the Geneva Accord was signed by Tuđman, Milošević and the Yugoslav defence minister, JNA General Veljko Kadijević.[80]

Aftermath

The ZNG quickly captured isolated JNA facilities and the depots, as well as several major posts, seizing large quantities of weapons. Those included the entire stocks of the JNA 32nd (Varaždin) Corps and nearly all the weapons previously confiscated from the Croatia's TO.[19] The JNA lost control of eight brigades, including one armoured and two mechanized brigades, and three artillery regiments, while additional forces in the JNA Fifth Military District and the Military-Maritime District remained pinned down by the blockade.[21] Significance of the Battle of the Barracks was reinforced by introduction of a United Nations (UN) arms embargo on 25 September.[81] The Battle of the Barracks resulted in a very large increase of ZNG/HV capabilities—allowing complete arming of its existing units, raising of additional 40–42 brigades and fielding 200,000 troops in addition to 40,000 police by the end of the year.[21] In the battle, the ZNG/HV captured 250 tanks, 400–500 heavy artillery pieces, 180,000 small arms and 2 million tonnes of ammunition. In addition, 3,000 officers left the JNA and joined the HV.[82]

While there are is no information on the total number of troops or casualties involved on either side, the JNA garrisons in Croatia were significantly undermanned at the time.[83] The JNA order of battle developed in 1980s specified a handful of battalions at full combat readiness in Croatia. Those were elements of the 140th Mechanised Brigade in Zagreb, the 31st Armoured Brigade in Dugo Selo, just to the east of Zagreb, the 12th Proletarian Mechanised Brigade in Osijek, the 11th Marine Infantry Brigade in Šibenik and the 139th Marine Infantry Brigade in Pula.[84] In 1990, the "A" classification, requiring 60–100% troop levels,[85] was assigned to the 4th Armoured Brigade in Jastrebarsko, a battalion of the 622nd Motorised Brigade in Petrinja,[86] the 13th Proletarian Motorised Brigade in Rijeka, and the 265th Mechanised Brigade in Bjelovar and Koprivnica.[87] The 221st Motorised Brigade, based in Knin was reinforced with "A" class armoured and mechanised battalions.[88] In addition, an armoured battalion was added to the 622nd Mechanised Brigade, and a mechanised battalion to JNA garrisons in Vinkovci and Vukovar each in May 1991.[89] Likewise, Croatian forces were strained between the blockade and manning the positions held against the JNA and Croatian Serb militias elsewhere.[37] Surrendered JNA troops were either transported to Serbia, exchanged for prisoners of war captured elsewhere, or provided civilian clothing and released.[90][91]

Both in 1991 and years later, Špegelj criticised Tuđman's decision to disregard his advice to attack the JNA barracks earlier than September—specifically during the Ten-Day War in Slovenia in June–July 1991. He argued that an earlier move, preempting deterioration of strategic situation in Croatia, would serve Croatian defensive needs the best. Furthermore, he claimed that the JNA would be unable to respond in force because it would need two months to mobilise required forces and that all prerequisites for a decisive victory against the JNA were met.[92] Tus thought that Tuđman kept postponing the blockade because of the international community exerted a pressure against confrontation with the JNA,[93] while Zdravko Tomac, deputy prime minister of a national unity government at the time, and later an opposition leader, stated that while Špegelj's view was militarily correct, Tuđman's position was politically better.[94] Kadijević conversely claimed that the JNA would have fared better if Croatian forces confronted it earlier on because JNA capabilities declined during the summer of 1991.[95]

Vance plan

The JNA campaign in Croatia ended in a stalemate, leading the belligerents to accept an internationally supervised ceasefire,[96] formulated as the Vance plan—a result of a diplomatic mission by the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General of the United Nations Cyrus Vance, aided by United States diplomat Herbert Okun,[97] and Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations for Special Political Affairs Marrack Goulding,[98] to Yugoslavia aimed at a negotiated end of hostilities in Croatia. The plan proposed a ceasefire, the protection of civilians in specific areas designated as UN Protected Areas and deployment of a UN force to Croatia. The Vance plan provided for the end of the Croatian blockade of the JNA barracks, the withdrawal of all JNA personnel and equipment from Croatia, the implementation of a ceasefire and the facilitation of delivery of humanitarian aid.[99] The parties to the accord also agreed to the deployment of a UN peacekeeping mission in Croatia, later initiated through the subsequent United Nations Security Council Resolution 721 of 27 November.[98] As a consequence of organizational problems and breaches of the last ceasefire agreement, the UN peacekeepers only started to deploy on 8 March 1992.[100]

Evacuation of the JNA

The JNA continued to evacuate following the Geneva Accord. The remaining seven JNA facilities in Rijeka area were evacuated throughout November, and the last barracks evacuated were those in Trsat on 10 December.[47] In Šibenik, the JNA evacuated two barracks and four depots from 25 November until 24 December, turning the confiscated Croatian TO weapons over to the HV on 10 December—but the weapons remained in a sealed storage under ECMM supervision until 25 December, as required by the Žitnić agreement. The bulk of the evacuation took place by rail via Knin, and a part of the force was moved by sea to Montenegro. The evacuation agreement required, as in case of Zadar evacuation, removal of the evacuated units from Croatian soil, but the JNA fulfilled that commitment only in a part.[101] The "Divulje" base of the JNA near Trogir started to evacuate by sea on 4 December, after an additional agreement signed by Rudolf and Mladenić regulating surrender of the TO weapons to the HV and evacuation from the Lora naval base in Split.[102]

The evacuation was halted once again when it was determined that some of the TO weapons are missing from the JNA facilities in Split. The issue was resolved through an agreement of 18 December made between Rašeta and Agotić, stipulating that the JNA would provide the HV with the missing weapons from its own stocks, and the evacuation resumed. Since the JNA did not have sufficient weapons to achieve that in Split, a Yugoslav Navy ship delivered 250 tonnes (250 long tons; 280 short tons) of weapons and ammunition from Kumbor in Montenegro to Split on 1 January 1992.[103] The last JNA forces left the area of Split on 4 January.[104]

Elsewhere in Croatia, the JNA also evacuated its facilities. Pullout from "Maršal Tito" and "Kerestinec" barracks in Zagreb started on 30 November,[105] and was completed by the end of 1991.[106] Istria was evacuated by the JNA and the Yugoslav Navy on 15 December, turning over the Croatian TO weapons to the HV. Quantity of the TO weapons turned over in Istria, where the JNA evacuated 78 facilities, was sufficient to arm two combat brigades.[107] In December 1991, only minor clashes occurred around the JNA facilities that were still under the HV blockade, including a minor and unsuccessful HV attack on "Mekušje" barracks in Karlovac.[108] Despite the Geneva Accord requiring an immediate withdrawal of JNA personnel and equipment,[99] the JNA stayed behind for seven to eight months.[109] When its troops eventually pulled out from Croatia, JNA left their equipment to the Republic of Serbian Krajina,[109] established in the JNA-held areas of Croatia on 19 December.[110] The JNA and the Yugoslav Navy kept their bases on Vis and Lastovo until early June 1992 before pulling out unilaterally.[111] The JNA maintained positions near Dubrovnik until July,[112] while the naval blockade of the city was lifted on 26 May 1992.[113]

War crimes

Croatian authorities charged deputy head of the Bjelovar police Operations department and three special police force members with death of five JNA prisoners and shooting of a civilian in the aftermath of the Bjelovar barracks surrender. They were acquitted after 12 years of legal proceedings, after the Supreme Court ordered their trial repeated twice.[114] Head of Bjelovar crisis centre was also charged with war crimes in 2012, but as of 2014 his trial is still pending.[115] Croatia also charged numerous JNA officers who held posts in the blockaded garrisons. In Osijek alone, 13 JNA officers were charged with war crimes against civilian population, including causing death of 307 and severe injuries to 171 persons, but none were arrested as of 2014.[116]

There were war crime charges brought against JNA commander of the 32nd (Varaždin) Corps, General Vladimir Trifunović. He was charged by Croatia with deaths of six and wounding of 37 people. After a trial in absentia, he was found guilty and sentenced to 15 years in prison in 1991.[117] Three years later, in 1994, Trifunović was charged in Yugoslavia with treason because he surrendered the entire JNA corps to the ZNG. He was convicted and sentenced to 11 years in prison. In early 1996, Trifunović was pardoned and released,[118] and the Yugoslav authorities paid him 62,000 Euro compensation for spending nearly two years in a prison.[119] In 2013, Trifunović formally requested re-trial in Croatia.[117]

Footnotes

  1. Hoare 2010, p. 117
  2. Hoare 2010, p. 118
  3. The New York Times 19 August 1990
  4. ICTY 12 June 2007
  5. Hoare 2010, pp. 118–119
  6. Ramet 2006, pp. 384–385
  7. Hoare 2010, p. 119
  8. The New York Times 3 March 1991
  9. The New York Times 2 April 1991
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 CIA 2002, p. 86
  11. EECIS 1999, pp. 272–278
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Ramet 2006, p. 400
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 CIA 2002, p. 91
  14. CIA 2002, p. 92
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References

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