by Anatol Lieven
ANATOL LIEVEN says ("It is hypocrisy to condemn Russia over Chechnya", The Independent, 13 December): "Don't let's just demand "proportion" from the Russians; let's also try to observe some ourselves, in our commentaries". Mr Lieven did not succeed in putting the suffering of the Chechen people in proportion. Perhaps more surprising still, he failed to acknowledge the damage that this squalid war is doing to the Russian people.
In Istanbul recently 54 heads of state appeased Russia to get its signature on the new OSCE Charter that gives the "international community" the right to intervene in all disputes wherever it deems fit in the future (post Chechnya). Boris Yeltsin surrendered to future international intervention by the World State in order to maintain, for the next six months, the myth of national integrity at home.
This war may fatally damage the Russian economy, opening it up to a fire- sale in which the western banks will exchange the paper money lent, for the mineral resources of the country. President Aslan Maskhadov has made repeated calls for negotiation with Russia. He knows that neither the Chechens nor the Russians will gain from this war.
Robin Cook, the Foreign Secretary, and Madeleine Albright have refused all requests from the Chechens for meetings. Bill Clinton and Tony Blair, until Tuesday 7 December, maintained that withholding money from Russia was not the solution. On Tuesday 7 December the IMF decided to withhold $400m. By the evening of the same day both Mr Clinton and Mr Blair talked about contemplating withholding money in order to pressure the Russians. There is no longer any foreign policy or leadership.
As the world looks on in horror at what the British and US governments have allowed Russia to do to the civilians of Chechnya, spare a thought also for the Russian people who, for the third time this century are being betrayed by their leaders. First by the Tsars, then by the Communists and now by Vladimir Putin and Boris Yeltsin.