Air chief delivers threat to Mladic

BOSNOA CRISIS: ULTIMATUM; Serb general handed warning of massive air response if attacks on safe areas continue 8 Paris denies 'bombing' Pale

The Bosnian Serb leadership yesterday responded with defiance after three senior Western officers delivered a strongly worded ultimatum to the Serb military commander, General Ratko Mladic.

General Mladic was told that "the attacks against the 'safe areas' cannot be tolerated". He was informed that the three countries would resort to any means necessary to reinforce or resupply United Nations troops in these areas. There was a specific warning that "if military action is undertaken against Gorazde, substantial air actions will be mounted. If necessary, these actions will be at unprecedented levels".

Air Chief Marshal Sir William Wratten, Commander in Chief of RAF Strike Command, delivered the message in person to General Mladic at a government rest house in Belgrade on Sunday. The Air Chief Marshal, who was air commander and architect of British bombing strategy during the Gulf war, was joined by high-ranking American and French officers. All three men presented a jointly agreed text, which was conveyed also to the Serbian President, Slobodan Milosevic.

In addition to the collective ultimatum, Air Chief Marshall Wratten gave a warning on behalf of the United Kingdom. He said any further hostage- taking by the Serbs would be seen as an attack on vital national interests and would attract severe reprisals. The Bosnian Serb leadership would be held "individually responsible" if any harm came to British soldiers, he said.

The Bosnian Serbs yesterday threatened dire consequences if Nato air strikes were launched. But General Mladic is said to have repeated to the three officers his demand that the Bosnian Muslim forces cease using the "safe areas" as springboards for military action. He said he wanted the areas demilitarised.

The language of the ultimatum suggested the three powers regard all the "safe areas", with the possible exception of Bihac, as subject to the warnings against assault. But only Gorazde was singled out for a guarantee of massive air strikes in the event of attack. "That is because there was a general feeling at last Friday's London conference that the fall of Gorazde would mean the end of the UN mission," a British official said.

Yesterday the US Defense Secretary, William Perry, refused to rule out heavy Nato air strikes in response to continuing attacks on Sarajevo and Bihac. "It does not rule that out. Indeed, quite the contrary," he said, when asked if the allied ultimatum was confined to attacks on Gorazde.

Despite the tough talk, the alliance remains divided over the practical details. Nato military planners meeting in Brussels failed to agree a concrete strategy for air strikes, but officials believed that a mandate for military commanders should be ready by today. Disputes between the powers over how and when air strikes should be carried out have hampered efforts to produce a battle plan, promised for yesterday. Last night the military chiefs were consulting their political leaders.

"We now have a very detailed military document on the table that is close to completion," a Nato official said. The final document is expected to focus on Gorazde, but will also make proposals for raids on the Muslim enclaves of Bihac and Zepa, both of which have come under heavy Serb attack.

Debate has been heated over who should decide when air strikes are launched. The US opposes continuing use of the "dual key" arrangement, whereby decisions are taken jointly by the UN and Nato. The UN Secretary General, Boutros Boutros-Ghali insisted yesterday that it remained his decision to launch air strikes. Today's plan is expected to clarify command structures.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Convicted art fraudster John Myatt
art

Life and Style
fashion

News
The Magna Carta
archaeologyContemporary account of historic signing discovered
News
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.
peopleFormer Newsnight presenter is being touted for a brand new role
News
The two-year-old said she cut off her fringe because it was getting in her eyes
news

Video: It is the type of thing no parent wants to hear

Arts and Entertainment
Avatar grossed $2.8bn at the box office after its release in 2009
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

h2 Recruit Ltd: Sales Executive - Ceiling and Flooring - £26,000 OTE

£26000 per annum + pension + career progression: h2 Recruit Ltd: An excellent ...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Business Development Manager - Credit Reports - £100,000 OTE

£50000 - £100000 per annum + benefits: h2 Recruit Ltd: Are you a high achievin...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Sales Executive - Meetings & Events (MICE) - £40,000 OTE

£30000 - £40000 per annum + benefits: h2 Recruit Ltd: Are you a high achieving...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Sales Manager -Business Intelligence Software- £100,000 OTE

£50000 - £100000 per annum + benefits: h2 Recruit Ltd: Are you a high achievin...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game