US rejects Russian accusation of genocide

WAR IN BOSNIA

The US moved urgently yesterday to prevent its "twin track" military and diplomatic Bosnia strategy from going off the rails, as Russia accused Nato of committing "genocide" against the Bosnian Serbs.

Washington is also meeting Italian resistance to the dispatch of F-117 Stealth aircraft to northern Italy for use against Bosnian Serb targets. The US chief negotiator, Richard Holbrooke, will make a new round of shuttle diplomacy between Geneva and the Balkans, to build on last week's preliminary agreement for an effective partition of Bosnia - even as Nato bombs rain on Bosnian Serb installations.

At the same time, Strobe Talbott, deputy Secretary of State and a close friend of President Bill Clinton, was due to leave for Moscow to mollify a Russian government bitterly critical of the continuing air strikes, and demanding a ceasefire.

Perhaps sensing that current Western strategy could be approaching an impasse, Britain is urging the US to consider the enforcement of a local ceasefire around Sarajevo and the extension of guarantees of protection for its Serb population. The Bosnian Serb commander, General Ratko Mladic has said that he fears for the safety of the 120,000 Serbs in the area if Serb tanks and guns are withdrawn.

In Moscow, a government statement carried by Itar-Tass news agency said children were dying every day as a result of Nato action. "In this way, the survival of the present generation of Bosnian Serbs, which is threatened by genocide, is called into question," it said.

The United States denied the charge. A Defence Department spokesman, Ken Bacon, said the campaign was designed to avoid civilian casualties, and described Moscow's accusation as "not a fair statement of what is going on here."

"We have worked very hard to try and keep the military pressure exerted by Nato limited in a way that is best designed to protect people, not to hurt population groups," Mr Bacon said. "I don't think it's fair to confuse that with a very sort of Third World word [genocide] that does not at all describe what we are doing."

The UN claimed a measure of victory in its battle to end Bosnian Serb shelling of Sarajevo yesterday, despite General Mladic's refusals to remove heavy weapons. Explosions shuddered around the city, signifying the heaviest pounding in the Sarajevo area since air strikes began almost two weeks ago. UN officials in Bosnia yesterday pointed out that as the alliance is operating under orders to limit casualties, the bombing raids cannot inflict too much pain. "Nato is going in with one hand tied," one source said. Most Bosnian Serb gun positions, the official said, would be stocked with ammunition for 21 days - and few have been firing in the past two weeks, since the bombing began. Since supply lines are short to Serbia, it would take General Mladic perhaps two weeks to refresh his stocks.

The Serbian President, Slobodan Milosevic broke his silence on Nato air strikes yesterday by telling Europe's Bosnia envoy Carl Bildt that the bombings were fostering war and not peace. Meanwhile the foreign minister of the self-styled Republika Srpska, Aleksa Buha, appealed to Russia and China for "urgent diplomatic and political help".

In Washington, officials were confident they would overcome Italy's reluctance, which has kept kept the half-dozen radar-avoiding F-117s in hangars in New Mexico. They predicted the F-117s could be at the Aviano base by the end of the week. At the United Nations Security Council yesterday, an overwhelming majority of member states led by the United States and Britain flatly rejected attempts by the Russian Ambassador, Sergei Lavrov, to push through a resolution calling for an immediate suspension of the Nato bombing campaign. In a parallel dispute, Mr Lavrov demanded to see a secret memorandum allegedly sent by the UN commander in the former Yugoslavia, General Bernard Janvier, to the Nato commander in Southern Europe, Admiral Leighton Smith, that purportedly outlined conditions under which bombing of Serb targets would be justified.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
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

Recruitment Genius: Experienced Bookkeeper - German Speaking - Part Time

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This firm of accountants based ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a financial services c...

Ashdown Group: Field Service Engineer

£30000 - £32000 per annum + car allowance and on call: Ashdown Group: A succes...

Recruitment Genius: Sales & Marketing Co-Ordinator

£15000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Well established small company ...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence