Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 3 Issue: 5

The January 31 issue of the newspaper Kommersant featured an interview with U.S. ambassador to Moscow Alexander Vershbow. Several of the questions posed touched on the conflict in Chechnya. Asked how the United States saw the future of Chechnya, Vershbow responded: “We prefer not to enter into polemics concerning Chechnya but instead accent our solidarity with Russia in the struggle with terrorism. The United States sees in Chechnya the presence of international terrorism and is undertaking efforts to cut off the flow of weapons and funds to international terrorists of the type of Khattab. But we consider that that the conflict in Chechnya cannot be resolved only by military means; it is necessary to seek a political resolution. The United States does not grant to Mr. Maskhadov the status of leader of an independent formation; the sovereignty of Russia extends over Chechnya. But the meeting [during the previous week] of a representative of the State Department with Mr. Akhmadov was simply an attempt to learn in greater detail about the situation in Chechnya in order to be able to convince the Chechens to cease contact with international terrorists and, together with Moscow, to find a political solution. The question is not a simple one, and the United States does not want to impose a formula here–Russia itself has to find one…. Russia itself must determine with whom it will conduct a dialogue in Chechnya” (Translated from the Russian text appearing in the January 31 issue of Kommersant).