NATO: Yugoslav strikes won't stop, despite indictments
May 27, 1999
BRUSSELS, Belgium (CNN) -- NATO welcomed Thursday's indictment of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and four other leaders on charges of war crimes, but said the allied bombardment of Yugoslavia would go on.
The two-month-old allied campaign continued Thursday, with allied forces setting a new record for the number of raids carried out in Yugoslavia -- 308 strike sorties flown out of a total of 741.
NATO pilots reported an increase in anti-aircraft fire, which Maj. Gen. Walter Jertz, the alliance's military spokesman, called an act of "desperation."
"They are shooting unguided missiles. They are shooting as many as they can in an attempt to hit a plane just by chance," Jertz said.
All NATO aircraft returned safely.
NATO spokesman Jamie Shea said the attacks would continue until Milosevic agrees to the conditions set by the alliance, including the withdrawal of Yugoslav troops from the Serbian province of Kosovo and the safe return of hundreds of thousands of ethnic Albanian refugees.
Russia's special envoy on the Balkans, Viktor Chernomyrdin, intends to travel to Belgrade on Friday to meet once again with Milosevic. He was scheduled to leave Thursday, but his trip was delayed because of extended talks with his two fellow special envoys -- U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott and Finnish President Marrti Ahtisaari.
Chernomyrdin went on with the talks despite Russian objections to Milosevic's indictment and the NATO campaign.
Chernomyrdin, in an editorial in The Washington Post on Thursday, repeated Russian threats to pull out of the negotiating process if NATO does not stop its attacks.
"Unless the raids stop soon," he wrote, he will recommend to President Boris Yeltsin that Russia stop all military and technological cooperation with the United States and Europe.
Chernomyrdin said he would also recommend a delay in the ratification of the START II nuclear arms-reduction treaty and the use Russia's veto on any U.N. resolution on Yugoslavia.
Serbian media also said a series of "exceptionally strong explosions" echoed early Thursday from the direction of the Batajnica military airport, northwest of Belgrade. Flashes from the blasts could be seen from central Belgrade.
Yugoslavia' state-run Tanjug news agency said NATO struck a ministry building in New Belgrade that coordinates imports and exports of weapons, but the missiles did not explode.
Serbian media reported that two children and a woman were killed and several people were injured in Ralja, 18 miles south of Belgrade, when a missile struck residential buildings. Tanjug said three people were killed and two injured when NATO bombed two villages in the Kosovska Vitina area southeast of Pristina, Kosovo's provincial capital.
Other targets attacked included:
-- Yugoslav army and Serbian police units in Kosovo. NATO said it hit 10 artillery positions, armored personnel carriers and at least 5 tanks, plus two Antonov Colt light transport aircraft.
-- Ammunition storage sites at Kursumlija, Pristina, Novi Pazar and Boljevac.
-- Television and radio transmission and relay sites at Krstac, Kacanik, Stara Pazova and Ruma.
-- Supply depots at Kragujevac, Titovo Uzice, Pristina, Cuprija and Ralja.
-- Petroleum storage sites at Kraljevo, Sjenica and Batajnica.
Trial of aid workers begins in Yugoslavia
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