Old Saint Basil's Cathedral in MoscowJohnson's Russia List title and scenes of Saint Petersburg
Excerpts from the JRL E-Mail Community :: Founded and Edited by David Johnson

The Guardian (UK)
November 29, 2001


Criticism by Sheila Malone and Bruce Kent of my attitude to Russian policy in Chechnya (Letters, November 28) is based on a selective and misleading characterisation of my speech in Moscow. I did say we have "come to see the scourge of terrorism in Chechnya with different eyes", and, given what we learn daily about the role in Afghanistan of some Chechens in the Taliban and al-Qaida, I am not the only one who has thought this.

It is totally wrong to dismiss what I also said in the speech, that we "disagree on the means Russia has chosen in the handling of that conflict", with specific reference to the handling of civilians. Their letter also ignores what I said in Volgograd: "We must also continue to express our deep concern, not about the goals of Russia's operation in Chechnya, but about the means used, and their effects on innocent civilians."

Relations with Russia are moving to a new level, but that does not mean we cannot or will not criticise each other. As I further said: "We will continue to have differences, but we must discuss them openly." Their quotes are ill-suited to the high moral tone they seek to adopt.

George Robertson
Secretary general, Nato

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