JIM LEHRER: NATO's aerial assault on Yugoslavia has expanded today. New targets included some in the Yugoslav capital, Belgrade. And the Russians, still opposed to the bombing, said they were sending warships to the Mediterranean to monitor the operation. Tom Bearden narrates our summary report.
TOM BEARDEN: NATO officials say attacks on Serbian ground forces have been hampered by bad weather, but Air Commodore David Wilby said last night's strike results were encouraging nonetheless.
DAVID WILBY: Because of the adverse weather conditions, not all aircraft released their weapons. However, we did manage to hit a full spectrum of targets using both manned aircraft and missile platforms. This is a pre-strike photo of the Novisad heliport and vehicle storage facility 31 miles Northwest of Belgrade. This is the photo taken after some of our attacks. You can see the damage in the highlighted areas. The first target is an army H-Q and ammunition storage facility. The second and third videos show attacks on a fuel storage facility. And the second target is actually a buried facility. You'll see that sometimes we use multiple bombs in our deliveries. Attacks on this sort of installation have caused them to ration and redirect all available fuel reserves to the offensive military effort in Kosovo.
TOM BEARDEN: NATO is being forced to ration, too. US Cruise Missiles are in short supply, having been used extensively against Iraq and elsewhere over the last several years. The million dollar per copy missiles are the weapon of choice in attacking heavily defended targets, because they are highly accurate and don't risk the life of a human pilot. And while NATO says it has degraded Yugoslavia's Soviet-manufactured air defense system, the alliance concedes it's proven to be a tougher nut to crack than anticipated. That's prompted NATO member countries to widen the scope and the pace of the air campaign. But Spokesman Jamie Shea cautioned against describing it as entering a new phase.
JAMIE SHEA: I've seen some reports in the press today that NATO has decided to go to phase 3. This is not the case. Yesterday, simply to clarify what has happened, SACO was authorized by the secretary-general after consultation with allies to extend the range and the tempo of operations in order to maximize the effectiveness of the campaign. But this is not phase 3 as such. In fact, I think to some degree it's misleading to talk of phases, because what we are actually seeing is one campaign, one strategy, one objective, which is simply to make an aggressor pay the price for unacceptable behavior, which cannot be tolerated, cannot be tolerated under any circumstances.
TOM BEARDEN: The behavior Shea referred to is what NATO describes as a massive ethnic cleansing operation being carried out by Serbian forces against the population of Kosovo. NATO says Serbian army and paramilitary police are going literally door to door and telling people to leave the country or face summary execution. NATO accused the Milosevic government of stripping the refugees of all official documentation as part of a plan to prevent them from ever returning to Kosovo.
JAMIE SHEA: The Yugoslav forces, so we are learning, are destroying the archives of the Kosovar people; property deeds, marriage licenses, birth certificates, financial and other records, public records are being systematically destroyed. This is a kind of Orwellian scenario of attempting to deprive a people and a culture of the sense of past and the sense of community on which it depends. This attempt to rewrite history reminds me of George Orwell's "1984" which I used to believe was fiction but now seems to be actually happening in reality.
TOM BEARDEN: Kosovars continue to flee by the tens of thousands and threaten to overwhelm bordering countries like Albania, whose economy had already been struggling. The Albanian ambassador to NATO issued an urgent plea for help.
ARTUR KUKO, Albanian Ambassador to NATO: Imagine what it means for a small, impoverished nation to handle such a crisis. The government is doing everything it can to address this crisis, the local population is also mobilized, but the crisis is aggravating every hour and is well beyond what we can do. The international community is mobilizing its efforts to come to our assistance, and I would like to emphasize that it is an issue of extreme emergency, it demands concerted and urgent action.
TOM BEARDEN: Relief planes began arriving in Bonino, Albania today. The Clinton administration is vowing to contribute $50 million to refugee relief. Other NATO members are also pledging support. On the diplomatic front, Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov returned home today, his effort to broker a cease-fire yesterday a failure. He accused NATO of already having made up its mind to continue the bombing campaign.
YVGENY PRIMAKOV, Prime Minister, Russia: (speaking through interpreter) The Yugoslav side has given a signal that, if so desired, can be interpreted as a signal to stop the air strikes. When we arrived in Bonn, we became convinced that NATO has an agreed line aimed at continuing military action on Yugoslav territory. This military action can lead to nothing but new complications for the world. They will lead neither to stabilization in Kosovo nor to stabilization in the Balkans. They can only complicate the situation on a global level.
TOM BEARDEN: Later in the day, the Russian government announced its intention to deploy as many as seven warships to the Mediterranean to monitor the situation. The State Department reacted to that this afternoon.
JAMES RUBIN, State Department Spokesman: We are obviously concerned by the signal such a large deployment might send to Belgrade and to other countries in the region. While the Russian foreign ministry has made it quite clear that Russia does not intend to become entangled in the conflict in the Balkans, and President Yeltsin made that very clear yesterday, the deployment of these ships we don't see as a particularly helpful gesture.
TOM BEARDEN: Some members of the Russian parliament are unhappy with the way their government is handling the situation. A fight broke out in the Duma when some members charged that the Primakov initiative was designed only to build domestic political capital for the upcoming December elections. Russian citizens showed their displeasure with NATO and the US in the city of Rostov. Demonstrators destroyed US-imported goods and defaced US flags. In Washington, a group of former US Defense and diplomatic officials called for ground troops to be deployed to ensure Kosovo's security, a recommendation the administration has repeatedly rejected.
FRANK CARLUCCI, Former Secretary of Defense: I would assign to them the mission of obliging Milosevic to withdraw his troops from Kosovo, and ensuring the future security of Kosovo. and that might require some presence on the ground for a long period of time. How long this would take is anybody's guess at this point. The Pentagon has said it would require at least 200,000 troops. I should think it would require at least that, and it would be a sustained conflict. I don't think we ought to underestimate the difficulties of doing this, but once you start threatening the use of force and your bluff is called and you use force, then we have to prevail. There's just no question about it, and the future of NATO as well as the future of the people of Kosovo is very much at stake.
TOM BEARDEN: In front of the White House this afternoon, more than 2,000 Albanian-American demonstrators rallied in support of NATO attacks. The group called for Kosovo's independence and for NATO to send in ground troops to defeat Milosevic.