Moscow, 29 May 2000 (RFE/RL) - The Russian military says Russian troops have started a large-scale air and artillery assault against separatist forces in southern Chechnya. The military press center said Russian troops supported by fighter jets attacked suspected rebel units in the mountains around Vedeno and Nozhay-Yurt. Military spokesman Gennady Alyokhin told the television channel RTR that 65 rebels were killed in the initial stages of the operation. The claim could not be independently confirmed.
Russian military officials said Chechen rebels have also stepped up their attacks, firing on Russian positions in more than 20 separate attacks since yesterday. At least two soldiers were killed in those attacks.
In Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin told a summit with leaders of the European Union that nothing will stop Russia in its effort to restore control over Chechnya.