Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 173

In an apparent effort to ensure that Russia’s crackdown in the Caucasus–not to mention its policing actions in Moscow–are not cast by the international community in ethnic or humanitarian terms, Russian diplomats have gone to great lengths in recent days to describe its efforts as a battle against international terrorism. To substantiate their claim, Moscow has pointed to alleged connections between events in Russia and the notorious international terrorist Osama Bin Laden. Russian officials have likewise claimed that aid is flowing from Saudi Arabia and Pakistan to rebel fighters in Dagestan and Chechnya.

According to Russian diplomats, Moscow’s travails have won it both sympathy and offers of help from around the world, including from Islamic governments (Reuters, September 18). In order, apparently, to build on that show of support, Russia intends to push for including a discussion of international terrorism–and the question of adopting “the most urgent collective measures” in the struggle against it–on the UN General Assembly’s agenda. That, at least, is what Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said on September 19 following a meeting with Canadian Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy in Ottawa. Ivanov described terrorism as “one of the most dangerous challenges the world is currently facing,” and called for joint action by the major powers to deal with it. In the same vein, Ivanov and Axworthy announced that they would urge the Group of Seven leading industrialized democracies and Russia–the G-8–to convene a special summit to discuss the problem of terrorism. They will reportedly make their proposal during a meeting of G-8 foreign ministers in New York next week (Reuters, Itar-Tass, September 19).