WASHINGTON, Jan. 1 -- Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev and the next leader of the U.S. Senate, Bob Dole, agreed Sunday that the Chechen conflict is a no-win proposition for Russian President Boris Yeltsin. Kozyrev said the fighting is a 'national tragedy' that holds no chance of gains for the Russian leader but which nevertheless cannot be halted without a settlement of what is considered to be a heavily armed rebellion. Kozyrev spoke on NBC's 'Meet the Press' program, interviewed by satellite from Moscow. Dole, on the CBS 'Face the Nation' program, said the American people have very little patience with massive civilian casualties, regardless of the reason. He joined other administration and congressional figures who have questioned the means Russia is using to secure the territorial integrity that Russia has an acknowledged right to maintain. 'This is a no-win situation for Yeltsin,' Dole said, 'and it's an indication that democracy may be on the brink of failure' in Russia. 'On the other hand, I think you can't just dismiss the integrity -- territorial integrity that Yeltsin's talking about,' Dole added. 'I think it's the use of force that will turn off the American people and the American Congress.' One of Dole's Senate colleagues, Phil Gramm, said Russia's use of such massive force 'undermines' their position. Yeltsin, 'was willing to use power that we clearly would not use ourselves,' Gramm said on CNN Sunday. 'Countries that use that kind of power against their own people, you've got to question their commitment to basic human rights.'
Answering the question of who is in charge of the Chechen campaign, Kozyrev said, 'Boris Yeltsin is evidently in charge of the political decisions, but what is also absolutely clear (is) that we are having major tragedy on our hands.' Kozyrev said the situation in Chechnya is not comparable to civil disturbances in cities like Los Angeles, which called for National Guard security patrols. A better comparison would be to President Lincoln's responsibilities during the Civil War, he suggested. The Chechan leaders are using 'heavy weapons, tanks, rockets, not to speak of machine guns and other things,' Kozyrev said. 'So, yes, president (Yeltsin) is in control,' Kozyrev said, having ordered the military operation 'as a United States president would do if he is faced with a regional gang which has in its camps tanks.' The military details, however, are in the hands of Russian generals, he said. Dole said the television account of the fighting 'is going to be troubling for the American people' with Congress becoming more reluctant to consider additional assistance for Russia. 'I just know that when these things happen, when you have helpless people, when their cities are destroyed and innocent women and children -- whether it's Bosnia, whether it's Chechnya, whatever it may be -- when it's on television, we watch television and we react.' 'We don't believe in this case that Yeltsin can possibly come out on top. He's going to lose whatever happens,' Dole said. Kozyrev said, 'It is nothing to gain or nothing to score, either for President Yeltsin, myself, or anybody here in Russia or elsewhere in the world. It is just (a) national tragedy.' Kozyrev said that regardless of U.S. opinion, 'We have to overcome it. It is just intolerable to have a military gang anywhere, be it in the center of Moscow, be it in Los Angeles or whatever, or Chechnya, and we have to put it down.' White House National Security Adviser Anthony Lake, also interviewed on NBC's 'Meet the Press' program Sunday, said of the Chechen fighting, 'I think the issue is more how they use force than whether they use it.' The United States supports 'the territorial integrity of Russia, just as we support the territorial integrity of its neighbors, so the issue is not whether Chechnya should be a part of Russia or not,' Lake said. Russia Sunday claimed its troops were close to victory over rebel leader Dzhokhar Dudayev's armed separatists after two days of heavy fighting in the Chechen capital of Grozny. Russian troops had surrounded Dudayev's headquarters in the city's center and were exchanging gunfire with rebels inside, contradicting earlier Russian claims that the troops 'controlled' the presidential palace and the entire city.