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Russia: Sanctions Against Moscow Are On Helsinki Agenda

Prague, 9 December 1999 (RFE/RL) - NATO Secretary-General George Robertson said today that sanctions against Russia for its military campaign in Chechnya will definitely be on the agenda of the European Union summit opening in Helsinki tomorrow. Robertson said the conflict in Chechnya is not "the property of Russia" and its consequences go beyond the borders of Russia. The EU's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, said Russia's military assaults are counterproductive and will not achieve Moscow's goals. Russian President Boris Yeltsin, on a visit to Beijing, responded to yesterday's criticism from U.S. President Bill Clinton over Chechnya. Yeltsin said no one will dictate to Russia how to act and reminded that Russia has a formidable nuclear arsenal at its disposal. In Moscow, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin downplayed the significance of Yeltsin's words saying they did not signal a cooling in Russian-American relations.

In Chechnya, Russian gunships pounded rebel positions near the Grozny airport following all-night raids by warplanes and gunships. Long convoys carrying ammunition are reportedly moving toward Grozny in anticipation of Saturday's promised massive artillery and air raids on the Chechen capital. The Russian military dropped leaflets over Grozny on Monday warning people there that a large-scale attack would come Saturday.