More Air Strikes, but Milosevic Clenches His Jaw

  • Share
  • Read Later
President Slobodan Milosevic is showing no sign of backing down as the second day of air strikes got under way Thursday. The target selection for NATO's initial strikes seems to have been designed as a warning to Milosevic. "The damage inflicted last night appears to have been largely symbolic," says TIME Belgrade reporter Dejan Anastasijevic. "NATO hit training facilities for elite units and some communications systems, but it looked primarily like a message to Milosevic, saying 'We know where you keep your goodies and we can hit them anytime.' " But the Serbs' response to Wednesday's strikes gave little hope that Milosevic would accede to an early end to the conflict. For one thing, the Serbs held back their surface-to-air missiles during Wednesday's attacks. "Turning on the air defenses would have made them a target for NATO," says Anastasijevic. "By holding them back, the Serb military saves its missile capability for later." At the same time, sending up MiG-29 fighters -- four of which NATO claims to have shot down -- signaled that the Serbs were ready to fight back. Says TIME Pentagon correspondent Mark Thompson, "Holding back his SAMs may be a sign that Milosevic is settling in for a long campaign."

Although NATO commander General Wesley Clark vowed Thursday to "disrupt, degrade, devastate and ultimately... destroy" the Serb military if Belgrade failed to comply with NATO's demands, Milosevic looks inclined to take the pain -- at least for now. "As long as he's not facing a ground offensive, he believes he can comfortably withstand NATO's air power," a Serbian source told TIME. "Yugoslavia will suffer, of course, but Yugoslavia's had to suffer the consequences of much of what Milosevic has done over the past 10 years."

Discuss the issues > >