NATO promises no letup in bombing campaign
May 12, 1999
BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (CNN) -- NATO said Wednesday that the 49th day of its bombing campaign against Yugoslavia was the busiest yet, and promised more of the same. Serb media reported dozens of the attacks hit mainly civilian targets.
"We are starting to hit Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic very hard indeed in Kosovo, and it's going to get harder and harder in the days ahead," said NATO spokesman Jamie Shea.
NATO flew more than 600 sorties -- 327 of them strike sorties -- into Yugoslavia overnight. The attacks hit military equipment, supply lines, oil facilities, airfields, an ordnance factory and an army barracks.
"It is becoming increasingly difficult for the Yugoslav army to maintain its operations," said British Rear Adm. Simon Moore, assistant chief of defense staff.
Speaking at the British Ministry of Defense briefing Wednesday, Moore said NATO had still seen no signs of a Yugoslav troop withdrawal, which was announced Monday.
"The repression is continuing and so, therefore, is the air campaign," he said.
Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic countered NATO's reports of success.
In a message congratulating his armed forces, Milosevic acknowledged for the first time in the air campaign that began March 24 that Serb military forces had been killed. He gave no figures.
"During this struggle, many members of police and security forces died courageously," Milosevic said in a message on the eve of Security Day, which honors the army.
"Their sacrifice is a shining example of bravery and devotion to one's people and fatherland," Milosevic said in the address carried by the state Tanjug news agency. "You have suppressed the enemy and disabled it."
Yugoslav media reported several strikes around the country overnight, along with new civilian casualties.
In southern Serbia, two people were killed and five others wounded while they crossed a bridge at Vladicin Han, Yugoslav National TV said.
Yugoslav National TV said NATO warplanes fired 15 missiles at the central Serb town of Paracin, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) southeast of Belgrade. The missiles reportedly hit a youth hostel and a Bosnian refugee settlement. Three people were injured.
A collective farm in Svetlje that housed refugees -- presumably Serbs -- from northern Kosovo was also reportedly struck.
Hungarian State Railways reported that the 32-kilometer (20- mile) rail route between Subotica, Yugoslavia and Szeged, Hungary, was severed in the attacks when an overpass collapsed onto the track. It was Hungary's last open rail link with Yugoslavia.
On the diplomatic front, Russian President Boris Yeltsin warned that Russia could pull out of "negotiating interaction" on Yugoslavia if his proposals and intermediary actions are not taken into account.
The Kremlin Press clarified the president's statement, saying Yeltsin was referring only to the "shuttle diplomacy" mission of the special envoy on Yugoslavia, Viktor Chernomyrdin.
"We are not taking part in this war, we didn't start this war," Yeltsin said at a Presidential Security Council meeting. "Our calls, continual proposal (on a peaceful solution to Kosovo) obviously are not getting through." Yeltsin said.
He sacked Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov Wednesday, a move that some analysts fear could take Russia's attentions away from Kosovo.
Chernomyrdin, after a trip to Beijing to discuss NATO's bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade, was back in Moscow Wednesday, where he planned to present a new proposal to U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott. Talbott is meeting with officials on the conflict.
French President Jacques Chirac was due to arrive in Moscow, where he was expected to meet with Yeltsin on the Kosovo crisis.
The visit comes on the heels of a diplomatic mission to the Russian capital by French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine, who met for a round of talks Tuesday with his Russian counterpart, Igor Ivanov.
Ivanov emerged from the talks, saying he outlined Russia's position that NATO should pause the bombings while peace efforts are being explored.
Moscow Bureau Chief Jill Dougherty contributed to this report.
Remains of embassy bombing victims returned to Beijing
Extensive list of Kosovo-related sites:
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