031000 [TWT] Russian leader promotes generals
"Mr. Ivanov met during a four-day visit with
Mr. Clinton, (...) he had come to restore "predictability" (sic)
to the bilateral relationship."
Russian leader promotes generals
By Jamie Dettmer
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
MOSCOW Acting President Vladimir Putin,
in what diplomats here describe as a
"calculated rebuff" to international critics of his
Chechnya war, yesterday promoted a number
of generals, including the air force chief
overseeing the pounding of Chechen villages
and the razing of Grozny.
As he handed out gold braid boosting the
heads of the air force and navy from three-star
to four-star rank, Mr. Putin said the war in
Chechnya had raised the morale of the Russian
military and boosted its standing in Russian
"The army has regained trust in itself, and
society believes in and trusts its army," Mr.
Putin told an audience of mainly high-ranking
military and security officers gathered in the
Kremlin's majestic Alexander Hall for a
Soviet-era army holiday.
The acting president, heavily favored to win
a full term in presidential voting March 26,
called Chechnya "a turning point for the armed
forces and security services, and for the
Russian authorities as a whole."
President Clinton has hailed his counterpart
as a man the West "can do business with," but
Mr. Putin has pursued both confrontation and
conciliation since replacing the ailing Boris
Yeltsin on Dec. 31.
Russian Security Council chief Sergei Ivanov
carried a message from Mr. Putin to U.S.
leaders last week that Russian and American
strategic goals "largely coincided," in spite of
disagreements over Chechnya, missile policy
and other issues.
Mr. Ivanov met during a four-day visit with
Mr. Clinton, Secretary of State Madeleine K.
Albright and National Security Adviser Samuel R.
Berger, among others. He said in a briefing at
the Russian Embassy on Friday that he had
come to restore "predictability" to the bilateral
Mr. Ivanov said U.S. relations remain a
priority for Russia and suggested that Moscow
was softening past refusals to consider any
change in the 1972 treaty restricting national
missile defense systems of the kind the United
States is now testing.
But Chechnya remains a great divide
between the two powers.
Russian bombers were on the offensive
again yesterday, with waves of attacks on a
gorge in southern Chechnya where a large
contingent of rebel fighters is based.
Sergei Yastrzembsky, Mr. Putin's spokesman
on the war, said as many as 4,500 Chechen
fighters are trapped in the gorge.
Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev, who
reviewed a Russian military parade yesterday in
the bombed-out Chechen capital of Grozny,
said his troops hoped to encircle the Chechen
fighters to prevent ambush attacks in the large
swaths of the country held by Moscow's
"The main thing is not to let the bandits
out, to finish them off in the areas where you
have pushed them," Mr. Sergeyev said.