Russian president Boris Yeltsin invited Serbianpresident Slobodan Milosevic and Croatian president Franjo Tudjmanto Moscow for immediate negotiations to end the fighting in theformer Yugoslavia, UPI reported this morning. Croatian army forcesconquered the rebel Serb region of Krajina over the weekend,forcing as many as 150,000 refugees to flee into Serb-controlledwestern Bosnia.
"I am sure we will agree," Yeltsin said, as he strodeback to work in the Kremlin after a month’s recovering from hearttrouble. But despite his optimism, Yeltsin also said that he had"a long talk" with U.S. president Bill Clinton, andtold him that "forceful means may have to be used" tocontain the conflict. The Russian president said that he had alsospoken with German chancellor Helmut Kohl, who Yeltsin said "hasinfluence over the Croats.
Earlier, in a statement issued August 5, Russia’s Foreign Ministry"condemned (Croatia) in the firmest manner," but stoppedshort of urging any specific action against it for its militaryoperation to recover its Krajina region, held since 1991 by Serbianinsurgents, and calling on Croatia to relieve the Serb-besiegedBosnian enclave Bihac. The statement regretted that the "internationalcommunity" had failed to heed Russian warnings and to stopCroatia’s rearmament.
As the Croatian counteroffensive began on August 4, Russia’sForeign Ministry accused Zagreb of "being mainly responsiblefor creating the Krajina problem," of refusing to negotiatewith the insurgents, of violating UN Security Council resolutions,and of interfering in Bosnia’s "internal conflict." The statement hinted at a possible direct intervention by Serbiain the fighting, and said that if that occurred, those responsiblewould be Croatia and "the countries which consider themselvesCroatia’s friends…the countries in fact backing Croatia’s militaryaction, notwithstanding their hollow protests.".
In a statement of his own to a specially summoned briefing onAugust 4, Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev said that it is "especiallytragic that the [situation] is being discussed by certain countriesoutside the framework of the Contact Group" (where Russiahas a voice). But Duma deputy and Foreign Affairs Committee memberVladimir Averchev told Moscow’s Echo radio August 5 that Russia’soffensive in Chechnya left it poorly placed to lecture Croatia..And German chancellor Helmut Kohl told the August 5/6 Bildthat Yeltsin could personally restrain the Serbs, and that Russia’sinternational standing depends on her cooperation in settlingthe conflicts in the former Yugoslavia.
Yeltsin to Return to Work August 7.