Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 3 Issue: 30

On October 4, Georgian law enforcement sources confirmed that five Chechen separatist fighters detained on Georgian territory near the border between Georgia and Russia on August 3 and 5 had been turned over to Russia. Three days later, on October 7, Presidents Vladimir Putin and Eduard Shevardnadze met during the CIS summit held in Chisinau, Moldova. The two “appeared to have bridged some of their differences. They said they had agreed to set up joint patrols to prevent Chechen militants crossing the 82-kilometer-long border between Chechnya and Georgia…. However, the details of the agreement have still to be worked out, and tension between the two countries remains extremely high” (report by Thomas de Waal in Institute for War and Peace Reporting,, October 10). On October 11, Newsweek reported that it had learned “from high-level intelligence sources [that] Moscow may soon airlift troops across the Georgian border in an effort to dislodge rebels sheltering in the famously inaccessible Pankisi Gorge. The offensive could come as early as mid-October.” “If so,” Newsweek went on, “Washington and its European allies will face some hard choices. Between Afghanistan, the war on terror and Iraq, the last thing they want is a crisis in Caucasia…. An attack on Georgia could… create an ominous precedent for Russian military intervention in other former Soviet republics–sending a ripple of instability throughout the region.”