Yeltsin threatens to send more aid to the Serbs

War in Bosnia: Russian leader demands end to Nato bombing and says Serbs did not carry out Sarajevo mortar attack

7HELEN WOMACK

Moscow

President Boris Yeltsin warned yesterday that Russia might give more than humanitarian aid to the Serbs if Nato persisted with what he called its "unacceptable" air strikes in Bosnia.

The West has dismissed his previous complaints as being intended to appease a domestic pro-Serb lobby. But Mr Yeltsin said he was addressing his remarks to an international news conference and expected the world to take them seriously.

Mr Yeltsin's spokesman later issued a statement demanding a halt to the Nato strikes because of doubts over who carried out the attack on Sarajevo which prompted them. "Russia insists that the United Nations look again at the situation in Bosnia in the light of new evidence on the blasts in the Muslim regions of Sarajevo,'' Sergei Medvedev said. ''Until then, Nato military action in Bosnia should be halted." Moscow's media has cited reports saying a Russian military official has evidence that the mortar attack on Sarajevo last week, in which 38 people were killed, was not carried out by Serbs.

Last night Russia called for a public UN Security Council debate on Nato's actions.

Speaking before the news from Geneva of a breakthrough in US-sponsored peace talks, Mr Yeltsin said Russia was changing its position because the situation had changed. "Before the Muslims were not so aggressive, before the Croats were not taking territory. Why are there no sanctions against them? Why are only the Serbs being punished?

"In future we will have to respond adequately and help the Serbs. I have already signed a decree on humanitarian aid. If these actions [air strikes] continue, then things will become hotter.''

Mr Yeltsin did not specify, however, what extra support he had in mind. Instead he called for an international peace conference which he said could be held in Moscow in October if other countries were interested.

Russia was a part of Europe, whose views the West ignored at its peril. The air strikes in Bosnia showed "what Nato is capable of", he said, reiterating his objection to the expansion of the Western alliance.

If Nato reached Russia's border, Cold War military blocs would be re- established and "the flame of war would burst out across the whole of Europe".

The German Defence Minister, Volker Ruhe, rejected this, saying: "It is the unnecessary language of confrontation. In Nato and in Europe, we are concerned with co-operation and not with threats."

Despite Mr Yeltsin's denial that he was playing to the home gallery, his rhetoric should be seen in the context of the campaign for parliamentary elections in December. Commun- ists and nationalists look likely to improve their strong position in the Duma (lower house) and the President has been obliged to absorb their ideas.

But he said he would take the necessary legal measures to make sure extremists who violated the constitution did not come to power and would encourage parties which advocated democracy and reform in Russia.

On the delicate subject of Chechnya, Mr Yeltsin said the region should abandon its hope of independence as "nobody can leave Russia".

He suggested his erstwhile political enemy, Ruslan Khasbulatov, an ethnicChechen, might have a role to play in the region. Mr Khasbulatov led the hardline uprising against Mr Yeltsin in October 1993. "I think he has become wiser over time," Mr Yeltsin said.

A step nearer to peace, page 17

Suggested Topics
Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
voicesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC
tv

Much-loved cartoon character returns - without Sir David Jason

Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff
tv

Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Arts and Entertainment
tv

Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife
film

Matt Smith is set to join cast of the Jane Austen classic - with a twist

Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmWhat makes the little man tick?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Sport
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes hobby look 'dysfunctional'
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

News
i100
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

Primary teaching jobs in the Swaffham area

£21552 - £31588 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Are you a fully quali...

Year 1 Teachers needed for day to day roles

£110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Pr...

Primary General Cover Teachers needed

£110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Pr...

Year 2 Teachers needed for day to day roles

£110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Ye...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week