Nova estratégia russa

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Ricardo Nunes

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Nova estratégia russa
« em: Setembro 23, 2004, 07:16:11 pm »
Nova estratégia russa:

Russia’s new pre-emptive strategy

Kremlin generals have studied US doctrine

Borrowing a leaf from the current US military manual and responding to the massacre of the Beslan school children, General Yuri Baluevsky, the Russian Chief of General Staff, announced last week that his country’s military now reserved the right to “launch pre-emptive strikes on terrorist bases… in any region of the world”.

No Western government publicly responded to this Russian statement. Yet, privately, Western military planners are beginning to worry about what the official shift in Moscow’s policies may actually mean. Moscow’s claim that it is fighting the same war on terrorism as the United States is not taken seriously. The people who belong to Al-Qaeda and who struck at the US three years ago, rejected everything America stood for: its economic prowess, its technological advances and its notions of society. For Osama bin Laden, the war is an apocalyptic clash of civilisations, a global confrontation between religions.

The terrorism that faces Russia today is of a different variety. It was born out of a war for the liberation of one ethnic group. The militants who attacked the US were foreign; those who attacked Russia were, nominally, its own nationals. Furthermore, Al-Qaeda rejects the concept of the Western world, whereas the Chechens want to join this world, albeit as a separate nation.

The Chechens are not fighting in the name of Islam, although they happen to be Muslim. They fight for the nationalist aspiration of independence. Al-Qaeda and its allies cannot be negotiated with, even if they were to give up violence. But, at least in theory, there is an answer to the Chechen problem, namely that of granting independence to this Russian province. The conclusion, therefore, is that the Russian government’s threat to deploy its armed forces around the world represents nothing more than an attempt to avoid discussing the real issue: the future of the Chechen nation.

Furthermore, unlike the Americans, who had to deal with a country like Afghanistan that shielded terrorists, there is no government that supports Chechen terrorists. Even Russia’s claims that it is facing an international terrorist movement are doubtful. Immediately after the terrorist attacks on a theatre building in Moscow two years ago, the Russians asserted that Arab fighters were involved. Not a single Arab was subsequently produced as evidence; all turned out to be local Chechens. The same claim was made after the horrific massacre in the school. Even before all the bodies of the murdered children and adults were identified, Russia mysteriously already claimed to know that 10 of the attackers were Arabs. But, yet again, the evidence never appeared. The reality is rather simple: although some links with other terrorist organisations may exist, the bulk of Chechen terrorism has always been home-grown.

What are the Russians up to?
So, why are the Russians still insisting on their own doctrine of military pre-emption against alleged overseas terrorists? There are two reasons. The first is long term and remains strategic. Ever since the end of the Soviet Union, the Russians have wanted to maintain control over the oil-rich and strategically important Caucasus region and especially over the neighbouring republic of Georgia. The Georgian government, now assisted by the presence of some US military personnel, has always resisted these Russian advances. Under the guise of fighting terrorism, the Russians now hope to reimpose control over Georgia. It is rather convenient that they can do so by using the same justification that the Americans are using elsewhere in the world. But, more importantly, Russia’s pre-emption doctrine represents a free-for-all for its secret agents. For years, the Russian government demanded the extradition of Chechen political leaders who sought asylum in other countries, claiming that they were terrorists. Without exception, courts in Western countries rejected these claims as unfounded. Well before the school massacre, however, the Russian security services adopted a new technique — that of simply assassinating such people. The former Chechen president was assassinated in the Gulf state of Qatar in February and further assassinations are sure to follow. Yet again, the Russian authorities will claim that they are doing nothing different from what the US Central Intelligence Agency has done. In practice, however, the Russians are targeting all those Chechens with whom a peaceful deal to the crisis can still be negotiated — far from eliminating terrorism, they are eliminating the chances for any political settlement.

Our prediction: Wholesale assassinations of Chechen protagonists and Russian bullying of Georgia. Do not expect Western governments to say anything about it either.
Ricardo Nunes


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