The European Union told Russia on February 15 that a political solution must be found to the conflict in Chechnya, while also emphasizing that the bloc considers Chechnya to be part of Russia. Foreign Minister Anna Lindh of Sweden, which currently holds the rotating EU presidency, stated in Moscow that human rights violations in Chechnya must be thoroughly examined. “The EU and Russia need each other,” she said, “and we both have a strong interest in intensifying our cooperation. But a genuine partnership should be based on common fundamental values” (Reuters, February 15). Lindh was accompanied by EU foreign chief Javier Solana and External Relations Commissioner Christ Patten. The trio held meetings with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko and Security Council secretary Sergei Ivanov. The same day Russia “announced that it had set in motion plans for long-awaited cutbacks of its troops in Chechnya, but gave few details.” On the following day, February 16, General Gennady Troshev, commander of the North Caucasus Military District, stated that the withdrawal of troops belonging to the NCMD would not begin before the end of March or beginning of April. Longrange artillery would be the first to withdrawn. Troshev emphasized that “a wholesale withdrawal of forces will not happen” (RIA Novosti, February 16).
On February 15, Senator Jesse Helms, Republican of North Carolina, submitted a resolution “regarding the 1944 deportation of the Chechen people to Central Asia, and for other purposes,” which was subsequently referred to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. The resolution underscored that “the current war in Chechnya should be viewed within the historical context of repeated abuses suffered by the Chechen people at the hands of the Russian state,” and urged that “the United States Government should make every effort to alleviate the suffering of the Chechen people.” The international community was asked to find “an immediate, peaceful and political solution to the war in Chechnya.” (Senate Resolution 27, February 15).