Attempting to deflect Western criticism of Russian policy in Chechnya, a Foreign Ministry spokesman yesterday said that no country is more interested in a peaceful settlement of the war than Russia itself. The spokesman also said that Moscow respects foreign reactions to developments in Chechnya so long as double standards are not involved and Russia’s territorial integrity is not questioned. The diplomat’s words were in part a response to recent remarks by a German parliamentarian suggesting that future Western aid to Russia be conditioned upon a peaceful resolution of the Chechnya crisis. (Interfax, August 27. See Monitor, August 19) The reference to "double standards" presumably reflects complaints from some Russian politicians and commentators that Moscow’s behavior in Chechnya is no worse than that exhibited, for example, by the Turkish government toward the Kurds or the British government toward problems in Northern Ireland.
The Foreign Ministry statement followed by a day a report that Chechnya was on the agenda during talks in Canada yesterday between U.S. deputy secretary of state Strobe Talbott and Russian deputy foreign minister Georgy Mamedov. Referring to those talks, a State Department spokesman reiterated U.S. support for Aleksandr Lebed’s peace efforts and for continued observance of the current cease fire. (Itar-Tass, August 27) Indeed, a Russian daily suggested on August 24 that the Clinton administration, prodded in part by the dynamics of the current U.S. presidential campaign, is currently preparing a "sternly-worded" statement on Chechnya that is designed to put pressure on Moscow. The statement is likely to be delivered to the Russian government by Talbott during an upcoming visit to Moscow, the newspaper said. It also interpreted the expected U.S. action as part of an international campaign to "besiege" the Kremlin on the issue of Chechnya. (Nezavisimaya gazeta, August 24)
German Defense Minister Warns Against Chechnya Bloodbath.