During a visit to Warsaw, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov affirmed, “If the terrorists cross or try to cross the Russian border, we will not wait until they commit terrorist acts. Any civilized country would do the same.” Asked whether the incident in Galashki represented a “last straw,” Ivanov replied, “It may be” (Agence France Presse, September 26; New York Times, September 27). On September 25, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld stressed that Washington was opposed to any move by Russia to bomb Georgia in a bid to stop rebels using that country’s territory to stage raids against its troops. “The United States’ position is that it’s important that Georgia’s sovereignty be respected,” Rumsfeld underscored (Agence France Presse, September 26).
On September 27, Russian Defense Minister Ivanov held a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The focus of their discussion was “the situation in Ingushetia and Chechnya.” Ivanov reported to Putin that a band numbering 180 men had crossed the Russian-Georgian border in two places and had then made its way to Ingushetia. Ivanov underlined that “the band had left the Pankisi before the beginning of the so-called antiterrorist operation in Georgia.” Putin then told Ivanov that “the day before he had met with the head of administration of the Chechen Republic, Akhmad Kadyrov, who offered his help in the struggle with the bandits in Ingushetia by using the [pro-Moscow] Chechen police.” Ivanov said that “he would take that proposal into consideration” (RIA Novosti, September 27).