Russian, Chechen officials predict prolonged conflict

Ulhas Joglekar ulhasj at SPAMbom4.vsnl.net.in
Tue Oct 24 09:42:34 MDT 2000


Friday
20 October 2000

Russian, Chechen officials predict prolonged conflict
MOSCOW: Chechen and Russian officials meeting in Moscow on Thursday warned
that the conflict in the rebel republic could stretch on for years, with
separatists ready to keep up attacks on Russian forces for decades to come.
Federal troops took control of the northern two-thirds of Chechnya months
ago, and officials in Moscow have repeatedly claimed that the insurgents are
on the verge of defeat.
But Russian officials' target deadlines for winning the war have come and
gone, several times. Meanwhile, the rebels continue to move around the
region, killing Russian troops in nearly daily shelling, mine and bomb
attacks.
"If we manage to achieve the kind of situation in a year when we have one
bombing per month, that would be ideal," said Shamil Beno, the Moscow
representative of Chechnya's pro-Russian government.
"If in 10 years we get to a situation where there is one explosion per
quarter-year, that would be perfect. If in 30 years Chechnya becomes to
Russia ... what Northern Ireland is to Britain, that would be great."
But he said that Russian troops' often indiscriminate bombings and rough
treatment of Chechen civilians had stoked resentment against the Russians
and increased support for rebels, meaning the conflict could last even
longer.
Russian commanders have balked at sending troops into frontal battle against
outnumbered but nimble Chechen guerrillas. Instead, they hammer areas where
rebels are allegedly spotted with massive air and artillery attacks, causing
heavy destruction and civilian casualties.
Ordinary Russians largely support the military offensive, and show little
sympathy for thousands of Chechen civilians killed or injured in the
conflict, or to scores more who have lost their homes.
"Everybody has gotten used to the fact that people are dying," said Ruslan
Karayev, an aide to Chechnya's deputy to Russia's lower house of parliament,
Aslambek Aslakhanov.
Hundreds of thousands of Chechens have fled the conflict, most of them
seeking refuge in the neighbouring Russian republic of Ingushetia. But
refugee camps are badly equipped for winter, with aging tents, inadequate
heating and often scarce food. (AP)
For reprint rights:Times Syndication Service







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