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Russia: Military Hopes Grozny Will Surrender

Moscow/Urus-Martan, 22 November 1999 (RFE/RL) - The chief of staff of the Russian armed forces said today he hoped the residents of Grozny would agree to hand over the city without a fight. General Anatolii Kvashnin said on Russian television (NTV) he hoped the takeover would be similar to that of the Chechen towns of Gudermes and Achkhoi-Martan. In both, the residents admitted Russian troops with no resistance, after weeks of constant bombardment by warplanes, rockets, and artillery. The Russian media quoted commanders (unnamed) as saying the military planned to surround Grozny by mid-December. The military also were reported to have said they focused their attacks on the town of Urus-Martan, southwest of Grozny. Both cities have been constantly attacked by the Russian air force, rockets, and artillery.

Meanwhile, the Russian command said its air force had today flown about 30 sorties, mainly against suburbs of Grozny and the village of Bamut. There were no immediate reports of casualties or material damage.

Bamut--a Chechen stronghold near the border with Ingusheti--was last week reported to have been taken by the Russians. The latest reports say fighting is still continuing there.