Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Yugoslavia Abandons Bosnia Serbs Cutoff of Supplies Could Be the Turning Point in War

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Yugoslavia Abandons Bosnia Serbs Cutoff of Supplies Could Be the Turning Point in War

Article excerpt

Serb-dominated Yugoslavia withdrew support for Bosnia's Serbs on Thursday, backing out of a war that it had bankrolled for more than two years at the risk of its own economic ruin.

Yugoslavia said it would punish Bosnian Serb leaders for rejecting the latest peace plan for the republic.

The Yugoslav government, which represents Serbia and tiny Montenegro, immediately sealed the 300-mile border between Yugoslavia and Serb-held Bosnia to exports of everything except food, clothes and medicine.

It also said all Bosnian Serb leaders would be banned from its territory.

Bosnian Serbs have depended on Yugoslavia for weapons, fuel and other supplies throughout the 28-month war against Muslims and Croats. The severing of political and economic ties could be a turning point in the war if Belgrade is true to its word.

Yugoslavia has clamped down on Bosnian Serbs before. But a stinging attack on Bosnian Serb leaders by President Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia suggested that this time the rift is real.

Milosevic, the region's main power broker, said Bosnian Serbs had jeopardized their people by rejecting the international peace plan. "That is why we have to cut off all further relations and cooperation with such a leadership," Milosevic said.

He appealed to Bosnian Serbs to oust their leaders, whom he branded as "war profiteers."

Montenegro and Serbia are the only two republics remaining in Yugoslavia. The secession of Slovenia and Macedonia was relatively bloodless, but wars erupted in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina when they declared independence.

Milosevic is widely viewed as the chief instigator of the fighting in Bosnia, as well as the earlier conflict in Croatia.

Serbia, which dominates Yugoslavia, faces a tightening of 2-year-old trade sanctions punishing it for its role in the war. Milosevic apparently wants to stave off further economic ruin that could jeopardize his hold on power.

In recent weeks, Milosevic's Socialist party has set up an offshoot in Serb-held Bosnia. Milosevic's appeal to jettison Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic was viewed by some as an indication that he wanted to become leader of the Bosnian Serbs.

Karadzic warned his people Thursday to prepare for rationing and other hardships. But the Bosnian Serb assembly speaker, Momcilo Krajisnik, offered to resign. …

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