INTRO: Russian forces have moved closer to Chechnya's
capital city, amid signs they will soon try to capture
it. There are also signs that Russia's strategy
involves much more than bombing, as Bill Gasperini
reports from Moscow.
TEXT: Russian troops are moving ever closer to
Chechnya's capital city of Grozny as they continue to
move steadily through the breakaway republic.
Russian units have also taken control of several more
villages in the southwestern region, a former
stronghold of Chechen fighters. Many areas continue
coming under heavy bombing and artillery strikes.
The Russian strategy demonstrates that lessons have
been learned since the last war against Chechnya,
several-years ago. Then, thousands of young soldiers
died in frontal attacks against Chechen fighters who
showed they were adept at urban street fighting.
This time, the Russian advance has been much slower,
with almost constant bomb and artillery strikes to
push fighters back before troops move in.
In some areas, Russian officers have negotiated with
village elders who were more interested in saving
their towns from destruction than putting up
In other towns, refugees have even returned home after
receiving assurances there would be no more bombing.
This "heart and mind" strategy also includes Russian
civilian officials who deal with vital services such
as gas and electricity.
Government ministers in charge of fuel, energy, and
electricity visited Chechnya and announced Sunday that
electric power will soon be restored in towns that
have been taken by Russian forces.
The head of Russia's main energy system, Anatoly
Chubais, said this process will begin in Gudermes,
Chechnya's second-largest city, seized more than a
In some northern parts of Chechnya, teachers and
medical workers will soon receive their wages, and
elderly people their pensions. But it remains to be
seen how effective this strategy will be in the long
Russia also occupied much of Chechnya during the last
war, when it proved much harder to hold onto territory
than to seize control of it.
Military officials estimate more than five-thousand
Chechen fighters are preparing to resist any advance
into Grozny -- an indication that the war is far from
21-Nov-1999 10:29 AM EDT (21-Nov-1999 1529 UTC)
Source: Voice of America
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