23:29PM Mon Dec 06 1999 NZDT MOSCOW, Dec 6 (Reuters) - Russia's military on Monday told all Chechens to leave their besieged capital Grozny within five days or face an unrestrained onslaught by artillery and air, independent NTV television reported. An NTV correspondent in the area quoted a leaflet saying that anyone who failed to flee the regional capital by Saturday through a security corridor would be considered a fair enemy target and destroyed.
In the last four weeks of the 20st century, not to mention the millennium, the world is on the verge of experiencing the effects of a new generation of horrific weapons systems.
In the latest reports from Chechnya Russian aircraft are said to be dropping leaflets warning the population of the Chechen capital of Grozny that if they do not leave the city they will die.
The plan - according to reports- is for the conventional bombardment of the capital to continue.
The remaining civilians are expected to brave this bombardment to leave the city along alleged safe corridors.
This in spite of the fact that in the last few days refugees arriving across the border have reported massacres along the way. Though these are denied. They were originally reported by Radio Liberty - which is I believe a US State Department radio station.
Once the deadline is reached in five days an Armageddon scale air assault will commence using atmosphere exploding - gas - and chemical weapons designed to destroy everything.
The latest developments look ominously real as they accord with other recent reports - namely that the Russian authorities are considering building a new capital to replace the probably uninhabitable - ever again - Grozny.
In a year that has experienced a war in Kosovo and then a very scary experience in East Timor, and a coup in Pakistan this is without a doubt the low point.
It deserves some context - and a grubby little context it is too.
Chechnya was the scene of massive ethnic cleansing under Stalin following the second world war - some Chechens made the mistake of allying with the Nazis. (That said even here in Wellington I have met a Roumanian Jew who flew in the Luftwaffe against the Russian's because they shot his girlfriend.) In short they have always been rather offside with the Russian republic and are consequently highly unpopular.
Ever since Russia fell to pieces after the end of the cold war - arguably equally a result of IMF and Western incompetence as well as Russian faults - Russian nationalism has been on the rise.
In 1998 the Asian Economic Crisis hit Russia. The Swiss Banker (who was murdered by his nurse we now hear) along with George Soros and a fair few others in the financial markets got badly burnt. Some low-level attempts were made to stem or slow the subsequent economic collapse, but the Western economic powers have now essentially held their hands up - saying - this is too big for us.
The current President of Russia - Boris Yeltsin - is a Bellicose alcoholic who has sacked several PMs in the last couple of years, notably Primakov who unlike the current incumbent, former spy-master Vladamir Putin, appeared to be a democrat.
The immediate background to the war in Chechnya is a series of apartment bombings in Moscow on the eve of a Presidential election.
These bombings - which rather oddly were targeted at ordinary people, not the elite, the army or any of the usual terrorist targets - killed hundreds.
Without producing a shred of evidence the Russian government quickly ruled that it was the work of Chechen Islamic separatists - who had earlier been involved in some border clashes in Dagestan. They then promptly launched and offensive against the whole Chechen state.
During this period Vladamir Putin (Who incidentally came to APEC in Auckland - but being a spy doesn't get in for the photo scene) has risen rapidly in the polls and is probably now the likely new President.
Russian's don't like Chechens and they think they in mortal danger of them. And so they are about to wipe them out - all for the sake of democracy! We live in interesting and disturbing times.
God help us all…