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
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Personal Tax Senior

£28000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer and Markets Development Executive

£22000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company's mission is to ma...

Recruitment Genius: Guest Services Assistant

£13832 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This 5 star leisure destination on the w...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Account Manager

£20000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Account Manager is requ...

Day In a Page

Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border