Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 38

On the sixth day of one of the war’s largest operations to date and amid a continuing information blackout, the Russian command in Chechnya and the Defense Ministry in Moscow yesterday made premature claims of victory in Novogroznensky. Dropping the contention that 1,000 Chechen fighters had been encircled in Novogroznensky, Russian statements admitted that fighting was going on against Chechen forces "entrenched on the edges of the town." This suggested to Russian and western observers that the bulk of Chechen fighters had managed to break out of the encirclement and regroup. Banned from the area, the media cited sources according to which fighting continued in the town and had also erupted in nearby villages, leading some observers to conclude that resistance groups were trying to relieve the pressure on Novogroznensky.

Yesterday, the fall of Novogroznensky seemed a foregone conclusion. Russian commanders, as usual, offered conflicting figures on battle casualties. Contrary to official claims that Russian forces had allowed the civilian population to leave, refugees from Novogroznensky said that many civilians were trapped there and that destruction and civilian casualties were extensive.

At a Kremlin meeting with media executives, Boris Yeltsin accused Djohar Dudaev of planning to take over the entire Caucasus and create a large Islamic state comprising Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and all of the Russian Federation’s republics in the North Caucasus. Also yesterday, Defense Minister Pavel Grachev said in a separate statement that Dudaev and Chechnya are being used by "Russia’s strategic enemies in order to split up Russia and annex part of its territory," as well as to "block Russia’s access to the Black and Caspian Seas. Russia may lose the status of a great maritime nation." (2)

Seoul Ponders Purchase of Russian Missiles.