U.S.-led allied warplanes bombed more Bosnian Serb targets early today as the besieged separatists were joined by their Russian allies in warning that the airstrikes endanger a fledgling Bosnian peace process.
The Muslim-led Bosnian government also was worried about the peace talks that began last week in Geneva, forced to defend them against a public that feels sold out.
Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, in a letter to presidents Clinton and Boris Yeltsin, said that by launching 13 cruise missiles Sunday night from a U.S. Navy vessel, NATO had “declared war on the Serbs.”
“It is clear that the most powerful military alliance on earth is openly taking the side of our enemies,” Karadzic wrote. “The entire peace process could be wrecked.”
Bosnian Serb television showed two houses purportedly destroyed by the Tomahawks, but no further evidence was offered of the numerous civilian casualties that the Serbs claim.
Although U.S. and NATO officials denied that the use of the Tomahawks was an escalation in the 13-day-old air campaign, it clearly marked an elevation of the weaponry employed and an expansion of the geographic area of operations. Previously, NATO had bombed primarily in eastern Bosnia and near Sarajevo.
Public buses started running again Monday in Sarajevo for the first time in five months, thanks to a new level of safety created by the airstrikes. But snipers opened fire from a Serb-held suburb on a crowded bus. Eight people were wounded.
Efforts by Russian officials to pressure the Western alliance to end its bombing campaign gained momentum Monday. At the United Nations, Russia circulated a draft resolution among fellow Security Council members calling for the immediate suspension of NATO airstrikes.
In Moscow, the Kremlin intensified warnings that NATO’s use of force against the Serbs threatened to spread war beyond the Balkans and could compel Russia to abandon international security accords.