There was a flurry of activity on the international scene yesterday as world leaders reacted finally to Russia’s threatened bombardment of the Chechen capital. The French and Italian Foreign Ministries expressed their misgivings over the situation in the Caucasus and urged both sides to return to the negotiating table. In Germany, meanwhile, politicians from across the political spectrum called on Russian president Boris Yeltsin to stop the bloodshed. As opposition parties demanded that Chancellor Helmut Kohl use his influence with Yeltsin to end the fighting, a senior German diplomat was dispatched to Moscow to voice Bonn’s alarm and to urge a peaceful solution to the conflict. Rudolf Sharping, parliamentary leader of the opposition Social Democrats, criticized Kohl for moving too slowly and Yeltsin for breaking his campaign promise to end the war. "You do not reach a political settlement with artillery shelling and bombardments. This is naked terror," Sharping said. (Reuter, August 21)
In Rome, the UN World Food Program asked the U.S. to begin an immediate airlift of about 140,000 prepared meals to help feed refugees from Grozny. That request came as the International Committee of the Red Cross urged Moscow to extend its ultimatum and to give civilians more time to leave Grozny. The ICRC also issued a statement estimating that while more than 120,000 people had fled Grozny since last week, roughly the same number remained in the city. In Dubai, finally, the head of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the Moslem world’s largest organization, expressed his "serious concern and anguish over the ultimatum issued by the Russian military authorities," and appealed to Moscow to refrain from using force. He also repeated the organization’s offer to help mediate a settlement between Russia and the Chechen leadership. (Reuter, August 21)
Yeltsin Returns to Moscow.