AN INTERVIEW WITH DMITRY SIMES, PRESIDENT OF THE NIXON CENTER FOR PEACE AND FREEDOM

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AN INTERVIEW WITH DMITRY SIMES, PRESIDENT OF THE NIXON CENTER FOR PEACE AND FREEDOM

Nezavisimaya Gazeta, November 4, 2002, pp. 1, 3

Question: Do you think Moscow is stiffening its policy with regard to Chechnya?

Dmitry Simes: I do not know how it may be made any stiffer. As I see it, Moscow has always thought Chechnya a part of Russia and never thought Maskhadov a man to talk to. How can a stiffening be executed from the military point of view? We should remember that Russia’s military resources are limited, as limited as the durability of the population’s political support of the war.

As for the notion of political settlement, this is something like apple pie and the Stars and Stripes for Americans. They all love them, but everyone has his or her notion of what they mean. It may mean a referendum under international control, adoption of a constitution, and even negotiations with opposition leaders.

Washington kept a watchful eye on Maskhadov during the tragedy. Washington never saw Maskhadov condemn the terrorists or the terrorist act as such. In other words, Maskhadov damaged his own image in the eyes of those in the United States who monitor the situation in Chechnya.

Question: Do you think the OSCE may get involved in the Chechen situation? Do you think something like Kosovo variant is possible?

Dmitry Simes: The OSCE position is disputable, and I understand Moscow’s skepticism about its objectivity. The Kosovo variant is out of the question. Deployment of NATO or other troops in Chechnya without Moscow’s consent is impossible.

Question: There are numerous speculations nowadays on the “barter” of Chechnya for Iraq…

Dmitry Simes: So primitive a bargaining is below the developing partnership between the Administration of George W. Bush and the government of Vladimir Putin. Neither does the US Administration want to become involved in the Caucasus, or have its troops deployed there etc. The US Administration is clearly ready to help, to help finding of a solution acceptable for both sides. It does not mean forced diplomatic assistance. It means public or confidential assistance, the way Moscow will want it.

Question: Will Vladimir Putin find himself in a similar situation, if and when the United States strikes at Iraq?

Dmitry Simes: As I see it, Putin is much more free in setting foreign policy than Bush, who is forced to bear in mind the whole system of checks and balances.

As for the role of the Chechen factor in the relations between Russia and Europe, it is an irritant rather than anything else.

CHEMICAL WEAPONS POISONING THE SOCIAL SPHERE

Izvestia, November 5, 2002, p. 2

Nikolai Bezborodov, Deputy Chairman of the Defense Committee of the Duma: Russia has done away with chemical warfare means of the 2nd and 3rd categories. It means that Russian chemical weapons will never be brought to combat readiness anymore.

The recent international conference in The Hague ignored this argument. Moscow asked the conference to give it more time for destruction of chemical arsenals.

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