BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in:  World: Europe
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Friday, 19 November, 1999, 23:15 GMT
Russian forces pound Grozny
Russian soldiers on patrol in the captured town of Gudermes
The Chechen capital, Grozny, is reported to have come under renewed attack from Russian forces.

Battle for the Caucasus
Throughout the day, Russian war planes and artillery - including multiple rocket launchers - bombarded the city.

Reporters in Grozny said that the city centre and the suburbs had been heavily shelled.

Russian news agencies said on Friday that Russian warplanes had carried out about 60 air strikes in the previous 24 hours, destroying arms stores and other sites used by Chechen fighters.

Interior Minister Vladimir Rushailo said: "The operation in Chechnya is progressing according to the plan we have worked out and we have received no new orders."

Click here to see a map of the region

Rebels in the republic are withdrawing in the face of the Russian assault, but are threatening a guerrilla war, according to an official of the Chechen Government now in neighbouring Ingushetia.

Russian soldier loading a howitzer to the east of Grozny
The official said that Chechen fighters could not compete with Russian military hardware. He said Moscow was too strong to defeat in a traditional war.

But he said the Chechens would make it impossible for Russian troops to travel safely around the countryside and would fight on until the last of them had gone.

Correspondents in the region report that the Russians have so far not got bogged down in close engagements.

They have instead relied on long-range weapons like the GRAD surface-to-surface missiles, which is not very accurate but capable of devastating large areas of territory.

On Thursday, Achkhoi-Martan, near the border with Ingushetia, was the second major Chechen town to surrender, Russian officials said.

Last week, federal forces entered Chechnya's second city, Gudermes, without opposition.

European security summit closes

Friday's bombardment came as Russian and Western leaders adopted a declaration on Chechnya and a charter on European security at the Istanbul summit of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

Correspondents believe the watered-down statement is unlikely to have much impact on the Russian campaign in the breakaway republic.

Russia is already violating the new charter limiting the number of conventional military forces across the continent.

The declaration on Chechnya stated: "We agree that a political solution is essential and that the assistance of the OSCE would contribute to achieving that goal ... We welcome the agreement of the Russian Federation to a visit by the (OSCE) Chairman in Office to the region."

Russian officials made it clear that there would be no withdrawal of forces from Chechnya and ruled out a mediation role for the OSCE - a concession that Moscow had appeared to make in Istanbul on Thursday.

Click here to return

The BBC's Ben Brown
"The Russians are in no hurry to end this war quickly"
The BBC's Chris Morris
"The leaders have found a formula to give the summit some respectability"
The BBC's Michael Williams
"Chechen fighters say the war hasn't even begun"
See also:

19 Nov 99 | Monitoring
Russia's media war over Chechnya
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Europe stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Europe stories