Another giant C-5 U.S. Air Force transport plane flew relief supplies to Russia Tuesday, and the first meals of donated food - including pork chops and mashed potatoes - were served at a Moscow soup kitchen.
The U.S.-led airlift that began Monday will meet only a fraction of the need - the first planeload had 100,000 meals for Moscow, a city of 9 million. The $78 million effort is small compared with the more than $80 billion in aid the European Community has sent since 1990. Germany alone has sent $45 billion."It's a little shameful that my country has come to this. But what can you do? That's life," said Pvt. Andrei Chernyi, a 19-year-old recruit helping unload supplies from a U.S. cargo plane.
Salvation Army volunteers Tuesday began dishing out the first of the donated meals at a cafeteria in southeastern Moscow. The soup kitchen, which began operations Jan. 1 with the help of private sponsors and the Red Cross, usually feeds 300 people a day.
About 30 people - mostly elderly, invalids and poor with large families - were the first to be served Tuesday. The menu was cream of chicken soup with dark Russian bread, followed by pork chops, mashed potatoes, corn, juice and vanilla pudding.
"Oy, we're very grateful. That's very good. It's wonderful when people look after and respect old people," Olga Korolyova, an 86-year-old pensioner, said of the meal.
President Boris Yeltsin of Russia, who has chastised the West for slowness to respond to his country's need for food, expressed thanks Monday but skirted the question of whether he was satisfied with the two-week airlift.
"We cannot judge whether it is sufficient or insufficient," he said on television. "One must just express gratitude that it is coming, that at such a difficult time people wholeheartedly want to give some sort of assistance to Russia."
The American food supplies - mostly rations left over from the Persian Gulf war - will provide only a few days worth of meals to people unable to keep up with rising food prices.
For Russians, the cuisine may be as unfamiliar as the sight of American GIs. Translators were put to the test to explain chili con carne, dehydrated fish sticks, beef with gravy and apple pie filling.
In related developments:
- Secretary of State James A. Baker III and Moldovan President Mircea Snegur said Tuesday they were moving toward establishing diplomatic relations between their two countries.
Snegur pledged the former Soviet republic's adherence to human rights and economic and democratic reforms.
- Armenian guerrillas attacked a strategic Azeri village in the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh and burned it to the ground early Tuesday, Commonwealth television reported.
Channel One television said the village of Malybeili, in the Khodzhalin district, was now cut off and a large number of wounded were left stranded.
- Poland President Lech Walesa said the West should do more for the new nations emerging from the former Soviet Union than it has for Poland, which has been flooded with goods but denied major investment.