From testimony by Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott before the House International Relations Committee yesterday:
. . . Perhaps the single most disturbing thing happening in Russia . . . is the conflict . . . underway in the North Caucasus. . . .
We have conveyed to the Russians at all levels what I would call the parameters of U.S. policy. . . .
First, that a spread of violence in the region will be contrary to everyone's interest except those who rely on violence as a means to their political ends, including the political end of separatism or tearing parts of Russia out of the Russian Federation.
Second, Russia's last war in Chechnya, 1994 to 1996, demonstrated that there cannot be a purely military solution to the problem there. . . . There must be a vigorous and conscientious effort to engage regional leaders in political dialogue.
. . . [Third,] all parties should avoid indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force.
. . . [Fourth,] Russia's significant progress toward developing a civil society, which means inclusive democracy and rule of law, will be in jeopardy if it permits a backlash against citizens because of their ethnicity or religion; that is to say, if there is a tendency in the heartland of Russia or in the capital of Russia to round people up and deport them because they have Islamic last names or are of a darker complexion than ethnic Russians.
And the fifth and last principle is that in defending its own territory, Russia should take special care to respect the independence and security concerns of neighboring states, especially Georgia and Azerbaijan.