Encouragingly, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is open to a more balanced approach. He has named a special envoy to the region, Alexander Khloponin, to get at the root problems in the area – severe joblessness, poverty, and corruption.
In a page straight out of Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s playbook on how to win hearts and minds in Afghanistan, Mr. Khloponin is working on a strategic development plan to be presented to the Kremlin this summer. The job-creating plan reportedly includes modernizing manufacturing, upgrading technology, and building a university.
Russia would also be well advised to seek greater support from the international community in dealing with its terrorist problem – and there should be much more outside interest in the remote, ignored North Caucasus.
Jihadist violence there is not disconnected from the larger, global war on terrorism. Al Qaeda frequently references Chechnya, and fighters in the area are thought to have been trained in Pakistan. Meanwhile, the European Court of Human Rights is choked with cases from Chechnya.