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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia Warns Serbs of 'Bloodshed'

LONDON (Reuters) - Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev of Russia warned Bosnian Serbs on Thursday that their rejection of a U. N. -backed peace plan could lead to "monstrous bloodshed".


U. S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher called the move "very, very unwise", and other diplomats and politicians raised the possibility of military strikes to bring the Serbs to heel.


The Bosnian Serb's self-proclaimed parliament, meeting through the night in Pale near Sarajevo, threw out the plan early Thursday and instead voted 51 to 2 with 12 abstentions to put its proposals to a referendum May 15-16.


The vote was a major setback for Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, who signed the plan Sunday under pressure and for Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic.


Karadzic warned that international intervention would not end the conflict but only lead to more deaths.


In Moscow, Kozyrev told a meeting of Defense and Foreign Ministry officials that he hoped the referendum, due to be held later this month, would "correct" the parliament's decision, Interfax reported.


Vitaly Churkin, Russia's special envoy to the former Yugoslavia, is flying to Belgrade for talks with the leaders of rump Yugoslavia, Serbia and the Bosnian Serbs, Itar-Tass reported.


In Belgrade, Serbia said it would cease all but humanitarian supplies to the Bosnian Serbs.


"Reasons no longer exist for further assistance in money, fuel, raw materials etc". , the Serbian government said in a statement carried by the Belgrade-based news agency Tanjug. In the United States, President Bill Clinton called the Bosnian vote "a grave disappointment" and said he had directed Christopher to renew efforts to gain allied support for "tougher measures" against the Bosnian Serbs.


Representative Lee Hamilton, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Thursday that "military strikes are much more likely than they were even a few hours ago".


In Brussels, Christopher said that the assembly's, vote had "made a mockery" of Karadzic's signature last weekend on the peace plan.


Later, after meeting with three European Community foreign ministers, he said that no course of action had been ruled out.


Mediator Lord Owen, co-author of the plan with former U. S. Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, said the rejection was "a dangerous folly" that pushed the international community closer to military action in Bosnia.


Kozyrev said Wednesday after his meeting in Moscow with Christopher that Russian troops would play a special role guarding a land corridor in Bosnia linking Serb-held territory and Serbia as part of a proposed U. N. -led peacekeeping mission in the event of Bosnian Serb approval.


In Sarajevo, however, many ordinary people shrugged their shoulders at the vote.


"It is what we expected", said 46-year-old mechanical engineer Emir Bajramovic. "The entire proceedings were a sham, a pretence. They are simply stalling and now they have another ruse, a referendum".