No doubt that Russia’s entry full force into the war on terror is going to change it immeasurably. And maybe some of the West’s curious half-heartedness about it so far will shake out. From the Washington Times, :
The massacre of children by Muslim terrorists in southern Russia has widened a rift between Washington and Moscow on how to resolve the conflict in Chechnya and threatened to undermine the two countries’ cooperation in the fight against global terrorism.
Western countries “bear direct responsibility for the tragedy of the Chechen people when they give political asylum to terrorists,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said yesterday.
“When our Western partners say we should re-examine our policy, what you call our tactics, I would advise them not to interfere in our Russian internal affairs,” he said after a meeting with former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani in Moscow.
Mr. Lavrov was referring to Ilyas Akhmadov and Akhmed Zakayev.
Beyond that, Russian officials have expressed anger at U.S. calls for a political settlement in Chechnya in contrast to Russia’s commitment to purse a war on its own terror to victory.
Mr. Akhmadov was given asylum by the United States this summer and is currently in the Washington area. Mr. Zakayev lives in London.
U.S. officials said asylum decisions are made by the Justice Department and immigration judges on the merits of a case and not with foreign policy considerations in mind.
The State Department was not consulted in Mr. Akhmadov’s case, they said. Some officials there were not happy about the decision’s timing, but they noted that it was coincidental.
Both men are representatives of separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov, who is considered a “moderate” by some diplomats. They have also been linked to Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev.