Tony Blair: 'Chechnya isn't Kosovo'
- 'We have always made
clear our concerns over Chechnya and any question of
human rights abuses there, although it is important to
realise that Chechnya isn't Kosovo. The Russians have
been subjected to really severe terrorist attacks.' Tony
Blair, BBC, 10 March 2000 (Guardian, 11 March)
Prime Minister Blair's
comments are clearly misleading. Quite apart from the real
suspicions of Russian secret police involvement in the worst
'terrorist' outrages in Russia, the bombing of blocks of flats in
Moscow and elsewhere, and notwithstanding the reality of Chechen
attacks on Russian troops and civilians, these are hardly grounds
for distinguishing Chechnya from Kosova. There was no doubt that
Serbian troops, police and civilians were attacked by the Kosova
Liberation Army during 1998-99: but in no way could that excuse
Milosevic's war against the Albanian people either before or
after NATO's intervention. Likewise Chechen 'terrorist' actions
provide no warrant for Russia's war against the Chechen people.
Where Blair is wrong is this.
No one expects him to wage war to free Chechnya from Russian
slaughter. But just because the West cannot use military means
does not imply that it should provide any political or financial
comfort for the murderous, authoritarian, quasi-imperial regime
of the former secret policeman Vladimir Putin. In particular it
should not accommodate the 'justifications' for its sordid war.