Moscow, 2 February 2000 (RFE/RL) - U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is scheduled to meet Russian acting President Vladimir Putin today in Moscow for talks expected to focus on the war in Chechnya. Albright has said she will express further criticism of the Russian military campaign, and will remind Putin that the war is isolating Russia from Western powers.
In fighting in Chechnya yesterday, Chechen commanders said most of their fighters had retreated from the ruined capital of Grozny. Russian commanders denied the claim. If true, the retreat would mean Chechen fighters had successfully evaded Russian soldiers laying siege to the city.
Chechen spokesman Movladi Udugov confirmed that two field commanders trying to escape Grozny were killed by Russian forces. But he said most Chechen fighters had successfully retreated to the hills and would continue to wage their fight from there. Albright and Putin will also discuss the issue of arms control. Russia is strongly opposed to U.S. plans to revive the "Star Wars" anti-missile defense system to guard against the threat from what it calls rogue states.