CHECHNYA: HEAVY RUSSIAN LOSSES; RESISTANCE REPEATS WILLINGNESS TO NEGOTIATE.
Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 100
The Russian command for the North Caucasus acknowledged yesterday that Russian troops lost some 40 killed and 48 wounded as a result of an overnight and early morning counterattack staged by Chechen fighters defending Bamut. The command upped the Russian casualty toll from an initial figure of 22 killed. In Moscow, the Defense Ministry offered conflicting figures along with an unsupported counterclaim that Russian forces had killed more than 100 Chechen fighters in the same battle. The ministry also said that "one thousand" Chechen fighters were defending Bamut. Until yesterday, the ministry was saying that only some 60 Chechen defenders remained there. Russian forces have long besieged the Chechen base near Bamut, suffering serious losses in unsuccessful attempts to storm it.
Chechen resistance leader Zelimkhan Yandarbiev yesterday announced that a leadership council has proposed negotiations with Russian president Boris Yeltsin in Makhachkala, capital of the neighboring Dagestan republic. The proposal links the negotiations to a "real end of combat operations" and a commitment to withdraw Russian troops from Chechnya. Barring such "basic improvements," the resistance will have to intensify its operations, Yandarbiev said. The proposal for negotiations outside Chechnya appears to respond to conflicting signals out of Moscow regarding a possible visit by Yeltsin to Chechnya. (Interfax, Itar-Tass, Western agencies, May 22)
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