Fighting between Russian and Chechen forces continued to intensify in both Grozny and several eastern regions of Chechnya, with mounting casualties on both sides. Russian TV reported that both the cease-fire and the curfew in Grozny had broken down and that as many as 1,000 Chechen rebels had been involved in attacks on the city over the last 72 hours. Chechen leader Dzhokhar Dudayev reportedly has declared that the next days will be a “night of the long knives” for Russian forces. Moscow radio noted that Dudayev specifically plans to attack Grozny again by May 9 to embarrass Yeltsin at the V-E Day commemorations. This tactic may work: Moscow television commentator Aleksandr Shashkov said May 2 that continued fighting in Chechnya would “significantly weaken Moscow’s position” in talks with Western leaders. While Russian commanders including Major General Gennady Toshev dismissed the possibility that such an attack could succeed, they acknowledged that the situation had grown “considerably worse.” And in a move reflecting both Moscow’s increasing concern on this score, Federal Security Service chief Sergei Stepashin was dispatched to the region May 2. Attempting to downplay the military problems, Stepashin told Tass that one of his top priorities was to restart petroleum processing in Chechnya. Meanwhile, there was still no word about the fate of Fred Cuny, the American relief expert who has been missing since April 9.
How Much Russian Flexibility?