HeadLine: WELCOME TO HELL ON EARTH
Daily Record, 18/05/1999, p12
by SHAUN MILNE
THE butcher in charge of Serbian forces in Kosovo last night warned
NATO to expect hell on earth if they deploy ground troops against them.
General Nebojsa Pavkovic, chief of the Yugoslav 2nd Army, said his
forces were ready and able to do battle with Allied troops if they try
to mount an invasion.
He said: “NATO think they can tread on Serbian ground by force. They
can try, but I am not sure they can accomplish this without huge
“Hell awaits them here. If they come they will be dying a horrible
death for days and months.”
Last night, Serb soldiers were digging in on Kosovo’s mountains in
preparation for a NATO ground assault.
Increased troop movements could be seen on the hills overlooking the
border with Macedonia.
Crack units are hiding out in bunkers and soldiers could clearly be
seen scanning NATO border patrols with binoculars from their elevated
It all points to a growing certainty among Slobodan Milosevic’s
troops that an attack is imminent.
It came as Prime Minister Tony Blair insisted NATO remained rock
solid behind its objectives in Kosovo.
Speaking in Bulgaria, he tried to quash reports of mounting tension
between Britain and the US over tactics in Yugoslavia.
Mr Blair said: “We began this action with full knowledge it was not
going to be easy. And even now, when we still pursue the diplomatic
route, we remain convinced that the cause is just and must be seen through to a successful conclusion.”
He insisted there would be no compromise of NATO’s aims – the
withdrawal of Milosevic’s troops, an armed international military force
in Kosovo and the return of refugees to their homes.
And he added: “The entirety of the Alliance is unified in these
On Thursday Foreign Secretary Robin Cook will fly to Washington to
push for an invasion force to be deployed.
He claims the Yugoslav army has suffered such heavy casualties by
raids that it would be virtually incapable of any resistance.
And he says that with the Balkans winter looming, the time is right.
His hand has been strengthened by a leaked letter from the US Joint
Chiefs of Staff to Defence Secretary William Cohen warning NATO cannot
succeed without ground troops.
Former General Colin Powell, the architect of the Allies’ victory in
the 1991 Gulf War, also criticised the current reliance on air power,
saying it left the initiative with Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic.
NATO Secretary General Javier Solana has been asked to review how
soon troops could be sent in.
Mr Cook said: “We are not going to launch a major invasion against
organised armed resistance.
“Whether the Yugoslav army in Kosovo – after the substantial hits it
has taken – would be capable of doing that is a matter the military is
examining very carefully.”
Mr Cook said NATO jets had been pounding Serb troop positions,
artillery and armoured divisions with ever more force recently.
Yesterday the attacks continued, around three Serbian towns – Cacak,
Ponikve and Kraljevo.
Mr Cook said: “NATO has done more damage to Milosevic’s war machine
than he dares to admit.
“All the Allies are committed to making their forces available,
although it will require more than the 28,000 we contemplated.”
Britain is preparing 2300 combat-ready troops from the Gurkhas,
Parachute Regiment and Royal Irish Regiment for rapid deployment to the
A further 20,000 TA reservists could also be mobilised if Britain can
convince its NATO partners that the time is right for sending troops
But Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown yesterday insisted ground
troops could be sent in without the Americans.
He said: “We would have to use the technicalities of land-air warfare
but it could be done.”
Mr Cook said NATO were in no doubt about the task ahead of them.
He said: “We are making a serious impact on the ground in Kosovo and
must be ready to take advantage of that. All of us are even more
determined that we are going to secure the defeat of the ethnic cleansing in Kosovo.”
Mr Cook said there was new evidence from the Kosovo Liberation Army
that Serb troops were deserting their posts before being forced back by
At least 80 cases of refugees being used as human shields have also
Diplomatic efforts to end the conflict moved into a higher gear when
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder made an unexpected trip to Finland.
That increased speculation that Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari
will take a central role in seeking a solution to the Kosovo crisis.
Meanwhile a UN delegation were set to make the first inspection of
Kosovo since air strikes began.