Washington, 25 October 1999 (RFE/RL) - U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright says she has told Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov that the United States views current Russian military activities in Chechnya as "ominous" and "deplorable." Briefing reporters today in Washington, Albright said she made clear during a weekend phone call with Ivanov that the United States believed Russia was taking, what she called, a "significant step in the wrong direction" in Chechnya. The U.S. has repeatedly called for a political rather than military solution to the conflict in the breakaway republic.
Albright said she urged Ivanov to recall how disastrous Russia's previous military involvement was in Chechnya during the 1994-1996 war. But she added that she was not particularly encouraged by Ivanov's response. She did not elaborate. Albright said U.S. officials would continue to address their concerns with Russian officials in the days ahead, and she noted that there were a number of other slated opportunities where U.S. and Russian officials could meet and revisit events in the North Caucasus.
RFE/RL's correspondent at the State Department reports Albright's comments today were notably stronger than statements delivered in recent days by other State Department officials.