Prague, 14 July 200 (RFE/RL) -- Statements by both Chechen separatist
and Russian officials suggest that fighting may continue indefinitely in
the Russian breakaway republic.
Top Chechen rebel commander Shamil Basayev said that resistance to
Russian rule is growing. He said fighters are getting new recruits and are
inflicting casualties. The Azerbaijan News Service videotaped Basayev last
In Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin says there will be no
let-up in military operations in Chechnya. Putin told the Russian newspaper
Izvestia that an independent Chechnya would mean, in his phrase, an
"expansion for extremism" and serve as a bridgehead for attacks on Russia."
In the latest fighting, two Russian soldiers in Grozny died when
rebels fired on their checkpoint yesterday. Russian officials said another
soldier also died in unclear circumstances in Gudermes.
Yesterday, Chechnya's separatist President Aslan Maskhadov called in a
telephone interview with Azerbaijan's news service for peace talks with
Russia. Russia has rejected any negotiations with the rebels, demanding
instead that they surrender.