01 Apr 2005

A Spreading Danger: Time for a New Policy towards Chechnya

Fiona Hill / Anatol Lieven / Thomas de Waal

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The ongoing conflict in and around Chechnya is helping to feed the wider international jihadi movement, and is endangering the West as well as Russia. The next “soft target” of North Caucasian terrorism could be a Western one. Mutual recriminations over the conflict have badly damaged relations between Russia and the West. While most of the blame for this lies with Russian policies, the Western approach to the issue has often been unhelpful and irresponsible. Denunciations of Russian behaviour have not been matched by a real understanding of the Chechen conflict or a real commitment to help. In their own interest, Western countries need urgently to address the crisis in the North Caucasus. This requires them to recognize the seriousness of the threat, to open a real dialogue on cooperation with Russia rather than simply making criticisms, and to make a serious economic contribution to the region.