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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

CIS Nations Deliver Measured Response

While most of the newly independent nations of the former Soviet Union have reacted cautiously to Russia's invasion of Chechnya, the military action has given rise to political surprises in some former republics.


Even Uzbekistan, normally a solid backer of Russian policy, raised its voice against Moscow's armed intervention. But the volatile Transcaucasus nations were cautious in their assessments, sometimes even openly siding with Russia.


A detailed rundown on reaction to the Chechen operation throughout the Commonwealth of Independent States, compiled this week by the State Duma's CIS Cooperation Committee, provided evidence that many prominent politicians in the newly independent nations are strongly opposing the war.


"An ideological basis for a new empire is being created on post-Soviet territory," Uzbek President Islam Karimov said in a statement late last month.


In most ex-Soviet republics, however, the voice of the nationalist opposition criticizing the war is barely heard, though well-known opposition leaders are making some harsh statements.


"Chechnya is no accident, it is a reflection of the new Russian policy and the revival of imperialist expansion," Ukrainian ex-president Leonid Krav-chuk said the day after the invasion.


President Leonid Kuchma's remarks on the issue, however, have been diplomatically bland, merely calling for a peaceful settlement of the crisis.


The Central Asian republics of Turkmenistan and Tajikistan have offered no official reaction to the Chechen crisis, and other nations in the region, with the exception of Uzbekistan, opted for neutrality.


But in Tajikistan, Moslem fundamentalist leader Rizvon Sadirov called for a holy war, or "jihad," over Russia's invasion of largely Islamic Chechnya, the committee said.


On the other hand, the Armenian Embassy in Moscow said in a recent statement that Russia is entitled to "use any means it finds convenient and effective" to settle an internal affair like the Chechen crisis. The statement was surprising, coming from a nation that has waged a prolonged war on neighboring Azerbaijan for the secession of its largely Armenian-populated region of Nagorny Karabakh. Azerbaijan has remained neutral over Chechnya.


But Georgia, which only recently lost a war to its own independence-minded region of Abkhazia, even offered Russia help in jointly patrolling the Chechen borders to prevent Abkhazian troops fighting on Chechnya's side.