USA and Russian Interests
by Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal

The Beslan tragedy that took place in September 2004 in Russia keeps haunting Russian President Vladimir Putin for the demise of over 300 lives, mostly children, when his mighty military, fighting the Chechens, who wage an independence struggle, was all set to display its power against the so-called separatists and blasted the school building from outside, thereby causing the mass murder.

The latest findings by the Russian parliamentary commission that probed the tragedy reveal that the mass murder of children was conducted by the Russian army aiming at destroying the Chechens by stage managing the site, killing the entrapped children en-masse, placing the entire burden of blame on the Chechens and offering credit to Putin's strong will to root out the "separatists" stock and barrel.

President Putin thus has been able to project his undivided power against Chechnya trying since centuries to obtain independence from Moscow ever since the former Tsarist rulers annexed it. The Nobel laureate for peace and the former Soviet President M. Gorbachev while granting Independence to all Central Asian republics declined to free Chechnya at par with other 14 Soviet republics in 1991. Taking full control over Chechnya was absolutely necessary for Russia for its pipeline economic interests in the region as well Russia wanted to retain Chechnya at any cost. The military forces revisiting the former Russian ruler Ivan Terrible's strategy of using any tool to achieve its set objectives did not find killing little children any bad, particularly because the USA does not raise any serious objections, if the victims are Muslims.

Moscow sought to use the tragic death of the children to score points over the Chechens and also charged them with mass murder and castigated them for the death of innocent children. The strategy did work in Putin's favour and the Chechens have been targeted every where, like the Muslims else where on the globe, and their cause of freedom of Chechnya has thus been made ineffective and the freedom fighters themselves have been totally silenced by this drastic action.

Although the freedom struggle has been put down brutally, going the world historical development, it is not going to die down once and for all. The USA fighting terrorism with terrorist attacks in Arab world supported the Putin's cause and both condemned the "Islamic terrorism". Among the Third world nations, India is similarly champions the so-called terrorism plank. Let us hope that more such truthful findings as about the Beslan tragedy, do come out very soon to put an end to the terrorism strategy employed by the West, so that the Muslims are spared of torture and insult on global scale.

 As President of Russia since 2000, Vladimir Putin has consistently projected a strong presidency after a supposedly weak Boris Yeltsin regime following the dissolution of the Soviet Union 1991. His top foreign policy priorities included bringing Moscow closer to Washington after the seemingly collapse of the warm relations built by M. Gorbachev when Boris Yeltsin tilted back to Eurasianism and began rebuilding Russia-Central Asia relations at the cost of USA interests in the region. All his polices both domestically and internationally have been to achieve the goal of influencing the USA policies in favour of Russia, but with very little success, but domestically Putin's policies turned out to be better than his foreign affairs. Chechnya in fact gave Putin very crucial opportunity to prove his mettle and by killing them in lots he accomplished what his predecessor failed-- a strong presidency and consolidated his power significantly.

The tragedy of Sept 11, once again offered Putin what came to be a critical helping hand looked forward by Moscow to forge solid equations with the US President. Putin supported the cause of the Bush administration to enter the coalition led by the US forces to invade Afghanistan once occupied by the Soviet Red army "on invitation' from the Karmal regime, but subsequently withdrawn when Gorbachev rose to power in the Soviet Union. Russia always looked for chances to prove its solidarity with the USA for advancing its national interests. When the Chechens took the children as hostages in a Beslan school in 2004, the military, while refusing to enter into negotiations with the Chechens, used that incident to discredit the Chechnya's "separatist" war of independence and blasted the school and shifted the blame to the Chechens. As expected, the entire blame was thus placed on the Chechens who, now having lost the support of the West, have also lost their voice internationally. The Russians, who don’t seem to like the Chechens, thus once for all gained upper hand in warfares domestically.

 With the USA and Europe Putin pursues what could be termed as cooperative confrontational policies where Moscow takes care of its national interest by using ties with them on the one hand and, confronts with them in matters of security and foreign relations, on the other. Following the tragic 11/Sept, Putin has effectively used terrorism plank to owe the USA and come closer to it. By supporting the US led wars in Middle East and its terror war, Putin tried to a worthy ally, but of no avail beyond certain point. In the former soviet space, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), particularly in Central Asia as well as in the traditional strong hold Russia has been more than eager to retain its grip through economic levers. Chechnya problem is one area where Putin gained upper hand in securing the support of the USA that used to support the cause of the its Independence from Moscow. By siding with USA President Putin also managed the approval of the West for his war against the Chechens, in consideration of which the Bush administration softened its general attitude to the former US enemy and oft used human rights violation plank in Moscow's case and, interestingly, almost shut its eyes on Russia's onslaught on the Chechens that provoked them to react violently in various parts of Russia. Since terrorism has been made the most important foreign policy weapon of the Bush administration to deal with the Muslims world wide, Russia on its part manages to treat the Chechens the manner Moscow feels fit without any visible opposition from the West or East.

Terrorism, an offshoot of the end of Cold war between these once super powers, the USA and the USSR, representing two distinct ideologies and sets of nations and supported by some more nations, was promoted -- if not invented -- by the USA led Western powers.  The huge piles of weapons including Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) gave sufficient impetus to these countries to be busy themselves with in testing the latest technology and weapons before selling them to the Third world. Terrorism has played its "dutiful" role in advancing the economic goals of the weapons powers ad sustaining and promoting terrorism has become the resultant exercises these countries have been engaged in. Both Iraq and Iran waged a long dirty war against each other with the help of the weapons supplied by the super powers. The sudden end of cold war necessitated the creation of a fitting replacement that creates the necessary circumstances to sell the weapons manufactured by the great powers and their associates worldwide day and night. Determined to show that Russia too is under attack by the terrorists equally if not more cruelly than the USA, President Putin showcased the Beslan tragedy as the worst possible terrorist act of the Muslims (Chechens), who, accordingly, don't spare even little school children. The strategy did work and the global media with display of photos of the dead children condemned the Islamic terrorist network. The world believed and the media of the Third world, as in India, also as usual projected the tragedy as the cruelty perpetuated by Islam. USA is forced to sympathize with the Russian school tragedy, lest its terror war strategy would be suspected otherwise and its tricks would be exposed very badly.

It is business as usual for the great powers and arms trade continues to be a lucrative business. It seems that the USA is one of the biggest investors in the Russian economy. Russia thinks that, given the current positive tempo in US-Russian ties, the accumulation of positive potential for tempestuous growth of economic cooperation would increase tremendously. Any determined deviation from joint "war on terror" would be detrimental to the economic interests of Russia, more than security stability a world level. Every power aspiring for world power status is so concerned about its so-called national interest that it just chooses to close its eyes on global terror on the Muslims. However, Moscow may not be able to sustain this terror strategy for too long along with the visibly imperialist nations shielded by the NATO whose policies are also focused on putting an end to Moscow’s superpower ambitions.

The writer is Research Scholar School International studies Jawaharlal Nehru University India.



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