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  • ‘Putin blasts U.S. on terror stance’

    Posted by Ralf Goergens on September 9th, 2004 (All posts by )

    Vladimir Putin is unhappy with the American policy towards Chechnya (even if he likes Bush):

    MOSCOW, Russia (CNN) — Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that mid-level officials in the U.S. government were undermining his country’s war on terrorism by supporting Chechen separatists, whom he compared to al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

    In the wide-ranging meeting which lasted almost four hours, Putin said he likes President Bush, calling him a friendly, decent, predictable person.

    But Putin said each time Russia complained to the Bush administration about meetings held between U.S. officials and Chechen separatist representatives, the U.S. response has been “we’ll get back to you” or “we reserve the right to talk with anyone we want.”

    Putin blamed what he called a “Cold War mentality” on the part of some U.S. officials, but likened their demands that Russia negotiate with the Chechen separatists to the U.S. talking to al Qaeda.

    These are not “freedom fighters,” Putin said. “Would you talk with Osama Bin Laden?” he asked.

    Putin’s comments came a few weeks after the U.S. granted asylum to Ilias Akhmadov, the “foreign minister” of the Chechen separatist movement.

    Reports about a Russian-American alliance seem to be somewhat premature.

     

    10 Responses to “‘Putin blasts U.S. on terror stance’”

    1. Lex Says:

      Putin has been stupid in Chechnya. The way to win a guerilla war is both sticks and carrots. The Russians have been all stick, and that has been handled brutally and corruptly. They need to get a carrot in play, and get themselves a stick that is the right stick for the job. Both tasks will be hard.

      As to an alliance, we can cooperate on all kinds of things, and still argue about the details of what to do in Chechnya.

      Funny he thinks that we have a “Cold War mentality”. The pot always calls the kettle black. No one in this country spends five seconds thinking about the Cold War, it is ancient history to us, long gone. To many Russians it is still a source or resentment, and to Russia’s military the Cold War is still a lens through which they view the world.

      We will see more cooperation from Russia going forward. They are running out of options, and they need to work with us. If I were Putin, I’d find that a source of irritation, too.

    2. Andy B Says:

      Anyone else notice this: “(Putin)…said polls in Russia show 7 percent support for Bush, and 25 percent for Democratic challenger John Kerry.”

      Where’s the other 68%? Do they support Nader? Castro? Stalin’s Ghost?

    3. Sylvain Galineau Says:

      Nothing new here. This kind of back and forth has happened so many times before I wouldn’t read much into it. This kind of bluster from Putin is usually intended more for internal consumption than the White House.

      Besides, Russia opposed the war in Iraq in rather unambiguous terms so I don’t see what’s so special, original or exceptional about this particular statement that it should be so meaningful with respect to the Russian-American alliance, whatever that really meant.

    4. jim Says:

      i’m sure 52% wrote in “we want more vodka”

      but seriously, i understand the criticisms of russia’s handling of the chechnya situation, but the us needs to stop coddling the chechen “freedom fighters.” the bottom line is, they work with al qaeda. that’s it. no carrots, just sticks.

      why cant there be some tit-for-tat where russia at least reduces its support for iran in exchange for the us completely distancing itself from chechnya?

    5. TM Lutas Says:

      I’m pretty sure that the vast majority of Russia doesn’t give a damn about who is in the Oval Office, a remarkably healthy attitude. As for carrots, I suspect that there is a pro-Moscow Chechen government in place because of the use of carrots. US media coverage of Russia sucks and it’s not surprising that carrots for Chechen reasonableness are not reported very well, if at all.

    6. Rahul Says:

      To be fair, TM Lutas, there really arent too many carrots in Russia’s handling of Chechnya for, oh, 150 years running at least. While I obviously detest the Chechen terrorists, I have to admit that Russian troops have not been much better over the last century or so, and in fact, many of my Russian friends agree. When I ask them, why not grant Chechnya autnomy, their response is that they were autonomous in the beginning of the 20th century and it was a disaster, since apparently the Chechens are always happy about walking into Dagestan, Ingushetia etc. Apparently Stalin even deported (whoa) the whole country to Siberia to solve the problem “once and for all”. No wonder the Chechens hate the Russians.

      Apparently many Russians think that the current turmoil is partly due to Georgian support of the Chechens, but frankly, the Russians screwed over the Georgians so many times, its hard for us Americans to pick sides, I think. Of course, then granting asylum to Chechen leaders may not be the brightest idea.

      The sad fact of the matter is that for most of recorded time, the Russians have been an autocratic state and have fcuked their neighbors over as much as the reigning tsar/ina possibly could. They don’t have too many friends in their neighborhood, least of all amongst the Muslims.

      My Russian friends also say that they cannot imagine what a solution can be since “Chechens got the raw end of the deal, but they are crazy anyway – they only know how to fight. Other people that Russia harassed at least made some progress on their own, not these guys”. On the other hand, if you were occupied for most of your history, how compliant would you be?

      It sucks, but its hard to root for either side in this mess, though I guess one could argue that at least Russia is moving towards representative government, wheras Chechnya is little different now than from most of its history.

    7. Lex Says:

      I had this post back at the time of the Moscow Theatre episode, making much the point as Rahul.

    8. Cobden Bright Says:

      Lex wrote – “The way to win a guerilla war is both sticks and carrots.”

      This presumes that winning the guerilla war in question is a legitimate aim.

      If most Chechens want independence, then clearly there is no moral case for attacking them militarily – Russia is a signatory to the UN charter, which supports the right of national self-determination. Invading Chechnya would be like Spain invading Gibraltar, or the UK re-invading India or Ireland.

      Russia has every right to attack and kill Chechen terrorists. It has no such right to kill Chechens who are simply fighting for independence, let alone slaughtering POWs, machine-gunning fleeing civilians in the back, gang-raping Chechen women, and other practises that characterise Russian military policy in the region.

    9. Lex Says:

      I presumed nothing about legitimacy. If you want to win a guerilla war, you have to go about it intelligently. Whether it is moral or legal for you to do so is a question I did not take up. I am assuming that Russia will stick to its longstanding commitment to keeping Chechnya as part of Russia. I’ll suggest further that telling them it is immoral or illegal to do so will not get them out of Chechnya. Given that, they are going about trying to win the war in an ineffective way, which is causing more misery than necessary to all involved.

    10. Rahul Says:

      I agree that you have a logical POV, Lex.