Russian envoy in Belgrade for Milosevic meeting
NATO broadens target range
May 28, 1999
BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (CNN) -- Despite fears that Thursday's U.N. indictment of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic on charges of war crimes would complicate peace efforts, a Russian special envoy has traveled to Belgrade to seek a diplomatic solution to the Kosovo conflict.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon said the indictment would bring no change to NATO's air campaign, and said NATO planes would begin striking a broader range of targets in Yugoslavia.
Russian envoy Viktor Chernomyrdin arrived in Belgrade Friday to meet once again with Milosevic. He was scheduled to leave Thursday, but his trip was delayed because of extended talks with his two fellow special envoys -- U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott and Finnish President Marrti Ahtisaari.
Chernomyrdin went on with the talks despite Russia's objections to Milosevic's indictment by the U.N. war crimes tribunal and the NATO campaign.
Chernomyrdin, in an editorial in The Washington Post on Thursday, repeated Russian threats to pull out of the negotiating process if NATO does not stop its attacks.
"The world has never in this decade been so close as now to the brink of nuclear war," he wrote.
Unless airstrikes end soon, Chernomyrdin indicated he will recommend to President Boris Yeltsin that Russia stop all military and technological cooperation with the United States and Europe.
Chernomyrdin said he would also recommend a delay in the ratification of the START II nuclear arms-reduction treaty and the use of Russia's veto on any U.N. resolution on Yugoslavia.
NATO's campaign also faced a verbal attack on another front.
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter criticized the bombing for targeting bridges, roads, water supply systems and other facilities that affect the lives of ordinary Yugoslav civilians.
"They describe themselves as now living like cavemen. In the meantime, Milosevic has become a hero at home because he's defending his country and we're making no progress towards peace," Carter said in a taped interview for CNN's "Larry King Live."
In Washington, the Pentagon said airstrikes would only increase.
Pentagon spokesman Ken Bacon said Thursday that NATO's top military commander, Gen. Wesley Clark, had again been granted authority to hit a broader range of targets in Yugoslavia.
Although he did not disclose what sites would be added to the target list, a senior U.S. official told CNN that Clark received new targeting authority on Wednesday to hit communications centers and the homes of top generals and others in Milosevic's inner circle.
Pentagon officials said the NATO air campaign had not yet "peaked."
The Pentagon also denied a report in the London Times that U.S. President Bill Clinton is now ready to consider a full-scale land war against Serb forces in Kosovo, sending up to 90,000 combat troops from the United States, if no peace settlement emerges within the next three weeks.
Spokesman Ken Bacon called the report "inaccurate ... in basically every respect."
Pentagon sources said Clark has not yet presented an invasion option to the Pentagon, but has warned U.S. officials such a plan may need to be considered if the air campaign doesn't force Milosevic to back down by the summer.
NATO on Friday said it attacked a sweeping range of strategic and ground force targets on Day 65 of Operation Allied Force.
NATO aircraft struck hard at Serb forces in Kosovo, including at least 20 artillery pieces, two tanks, an armored personnel carrier, two mortar positions, seven anti-artillery pices, two multiple rocket launchers systems and other revetted positions.
Other areas targeted included:
Serb media say NATO hits Yugoslav power plants
NATO missiles smashed more of Serbia's electricity network overnight, knocking out two major power distribution stations in Belgrade and plunging most of the capital into darkness, Serbian media and residents reported.
The Beta news agency quoted the Serbian Electrical Company as saying a large part of its network was disabled just after 8.30 p.m. (1830 GMT) on Thursday. Residents said much of Belgrade, a city of more than two million people, was in darkness for most of the night.
Throughout the night, NATO continued to bombard other parts of Belgrade and the surrounding areas, residents and media said.
Local media also reported blackouts and interrupted water supply in the industrial town of Pancevo, northeast of the capital, and in Serbia's second largest city, Novi Sad, in the northwest.
Witnesses said flames and smoke poured from an electricity distribution station in Belgrade's Bezanijska Kosa district. That facility distributes power from the Obrenovac generating station southwest of the capital.
An installation at Lestane which relays power from the Djerdap hydroelectric plant on the Danube river east of Belgrade on the border with Romania was also hit, the power company said.
Among the casualties of the blackout was Belgrade's main hospital, the Emergency Medical Care Center.
A report on the Internet by Serb residents said that by 11 p.m. (2100 GMT) there was no power in Smederevo, 45 km (30 miles) southeast of Belgrade, Novi Pazar 280 km (170 miles) to the south, and Sombor 175 km (110 miles) northwest.
The official Yugoslav news agency Tanjug reported earlier that NATO aircraft had hit the southern Serbian province of Kosovo hard during the afternoon and evening.
The agency said "approximately 120" NATO missiles were fired on targets in Kosovo, including the provincial capital Pristina, between 2:30 p.m. (1230 GMT) and 8:30 p.m. (1830 GMT) causing heavy "material damage to civilian facilities."
In later night-time attacks on the Pristina area, NATO missiles hit a TV transmitter and the adjoining Radio Television Serbia building about 20 km (12 miles) west of the city, Tanjug said.
The industrial section of Nis in southeast Serbia was also hit repeatedly overnight, with local anti-aircraft batteries returning "strong fire," Beta reported.
Tanjug said three people died and a number were wounded in an attack on Aleksinac, near Nis, that destroyed 10 houses and damaged about 30.
Local media and residents reported sustained air attacks in many other parts of central and southern Serbia.
Earlier, Beta reported that two people were killed and two wounded when a bridge over the Jablanica river in Lebane district in southern Serbia was attacked.
Trial of aid workers begins in Yugoslavia
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