Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 153

Russian president Boris Yeltsin’s chief spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky told a briefing yesterday that Yeltsin has ordered his chief security official Aleksandr Lebed in writing to "reestablish the legal order in Grozny as it existed on August 5," relieve remaining Russian positions surrounded in Grozny, and retake government buildings. The order also demands continuation of talks with the Chechen opposition and the submission by September 1 of a complete plan for withdrawal of Russian troops designated as "temporarily stationed" in Chechnya. As presented by Yastrzhembsky, Yeltsin’s order is replete with oblique warnings to Lebed to fall in line with official policy.

In a parallel development in Chechnya yesterday, Lt. General Konstantin Pulikovsky issued an official warning to the Chechen opposition to withdraw from Grozny within 48 hours. Warning that he reserved the right to use air bombing and rocket strikes against the city after the expiration of the term, Pulikovsky asked the civilian population to leave the city immediately via the one remaining corridor held open by Russian troops. (Russian and Western agencies, August 19) The scenario closely follows the pattern of "special operations" which the Russian military have used in laying waste Chechnya’s towns and villages. Chechen forces recaptured Grozny on August 6 and have been in almost full control of the capital since. Russian forces reported losing 265 killed, several hundred missing, and more than 1,000 wounded in the defeat. Yeltsin’s order clearly overrules Lebed’s efforts to negotiate a ceasefire and a political settlement of the conflict.

Rodionov on the Army’s Future.