Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 3 Issue: 6

On February 7, the Russian website SMI.ru published a lengthy summary of the recent testimony of CIA director George Tenet before the U.S. Senate Select Intelligence Committee. Tenet’s words concerning the conflict in Chechnya were cited, strangely, in the original English: “Putin,” Tenet reported to the senators, “has made no headway in Chechnya. Despite his hint in September [2001] of a possible dialogue with Chechen moderates, the fighting has intensified in recent months, and thousands of Chechen guerillas and their fellow Arab mujaheddin fighters remain. Moscow seems unwilling to consider the compromises necessary to reach a settlement, while divisions among the Chechens make it hard to find a representative interlocutor. The war meanwhile threatens to spill over into neighboring Georgia.”

Tenet continued: “After September 11th, Putin emphatically chose to join us in the fight against terrorism. The Kremlin blames Islamic radicalism for the conflict in Chechnya, and believes it to be a serious threat to Russia. Moscow sees the U.S.-led counterterrorism effort, particularly the demise of the Taliban regime, as an important gain in countering the radical Islamic threat to Russia and Central Asia.”