Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Chechen Leader Pleads for Talks but He Offers No Compromise; Russians Batter Capital and Villages

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Chechen Leader Pleads for Talks but He Offers No Compromise; Russians Batter Capital and Villages

Article excerpt

As one of the most furious air assaults of the war roared above his underground bunker, Chechnya's rebel president said Thursday that he was ready for peace - but showed no signs of backing down on his demands.

The Russian army battered villages and Grozny, the capital, with bombs and artillery shells and engaged in fierce clashes on the edges of Grozny.

Ground forces poised near the city limits reportedly entrenched their positions. Defense Minister Pavel Grachev dismissed speculation of an all-out storming of Grozny but declared that his forces would "advance deep into the town with a view to confiscating weapons and eradicating gangs."

Holed up in a bomb shelter underneath the presidential palace while Russian bombers flew overhead, Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudayev sent a telegram to Russian leaders saying he was still ready to talk peace.

But despite the worsening odds faced by outmanned Chechen forces, there was no evidence Dudayev was prepared to compromise on a demand that Russian troops withdraw from Chechnya before any negotiations begin.

The Russians claimed to have shot down Dudayev's personal helicopter, and one bomb just missed the presidential palace, devastating a nearby house.

Airstrikes pounded the already devastated city, and artillery thudded on the fringes throughout the day.

Thick clouds of smoke rose from the industrial district as Russian bombers pounded it for a third straight day. One bomb destroyed part of a refinery, and another barely missed a factory's liquid ammonia tank.

Tens of thousands of residents already have fled the capital, which formerly had a population of 400,000. Those remaining have lost water supplies and power, and some could be seen cooking outdoors on wood fires.

The U.N. high commissioner for refugees said in Geneva that Russia had asked for emergency aid for the refugees.

The Chechens say hundreds of civilians have died, most in air raids in Grozny, since up to 40,000 Russian troops entered the Caucasus Mountains region on Dec. 11. The Russians have stepped up their attacks in recent days.

"We simply cannot keep track of how many buildings are destroyed, how many people are dead," said Aslanbek Dadayev of the official Chechen news agency, in Grozny. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.