RUSSIAN FORCES PUSH INTO CHECHEN MOUNTAINS.
Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 26
The Russian army on June 5 advanced beyond Vedeno, the Chechen headquarters that fell to Moscow June 4. Russian television showed the Russian flag flying over the city, and Russian military authorities said that 316 Chechen fighters had died defending the city but that only seven Russian soldiers had been lost, Interfax reported. (Both figures are almost certainly wrong: the Chechen too high and the Russian too low. That is suggested by another Interfax report of June 5: it noted that the marines from the Pacific Fleet had lost some 35 killed since early May.) Russian commanders suggested that the fall of Vedeno marked a shift in the balance of forces in the region and that the Chechens would no longer be able to conduct any serious set-piece operations, but would henceforth be reduced to guerrilla warfare, Tass said. There may be some truth in this. Chechen commander Ruslan Gelayev told the Russian news agency that “small groups of Chechen fighters are well-equipped and capable of fighting on their own for a long period of time.” But on the same day, Russian news agencies reported that the Chechens had downed another Russian helicopter and that the Russian army had captured eight more Chechen tanks — which the Chechens were not supposed to have according to Russian accounts. Also June 5, the International Committee of the Red Cross released a report on the fighting in Chechnya. The ICRC was sharply critical of both sides for their tactics, but said that Russian violations were both more numerous and more serious. It said that Moscow now holds some 287 Chechen POWs while the Chechens hold some 86 Russian soldiers. Neither the ICRC nor anyone else provided any new information on the fate of Fred Cuny, the American aid specialist who has been missing in Chechnya since April 9.
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