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Russia: General Says Chechens Running Low On Ammunition

Moscow, 28 December 1999 (RFE/RL) -- Chechen rebels continue putting up strong resistance in the battle for the capital Grozny. But Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev said today that rebels defending the blockaded city are running out of ammunition. Sergeyev says the Russian forces have, in his words, "turned the situation back to their advantage." Russian troops entered the breakaway republic three months ago and have established control in all lowland areas except Grozny. The federal troops and a pro-Moscow militia launched a concerted attack on the capital four days ago. News reports say that the Russian troops have slowed their advance and are limiting their use of armored vehicles, which are vulnerable to ambush in the city's narrow streets. The former mayor of Grozny, Bislan Gantamirov, told Interfax that seizing Grozny may take longer than expected. Pro-Moscow Chechen politican Malik Saydullayev said the battle could take months rather than days.

But Interfax quotes Sergeyev as saying the campaign is still proceeding as planned. He says the military is being cautious to limit casualties among its soldiers and civilians.