It is very important that the Russian people and their government know Russia does not stand alone in grief and in resolve after the past week's horrors at School No. 1 in Beslan. That the world community -- in particular the democratic nations that have also experienced terrorism firsthand -- has identified with the Russian people gives us strength in a time of sorrow. As Russia grieves with the families of those who were brutally murdered or maimed, I would like to thank the American people for their prayers, sympathy and support. Truly, it is appropriate to say that Beslan is our Sept. 11.

Since the first scenes of horror appeared on TV screens last Wednesday, the telephones in our embassy here never stopped ringing. Then came hundreds of letters and thousands of e-mails from every corner of America. This outpouring of sympathy and solidarity was sincere, spontaneous and intense.

We are grateful to President Bush, who has made it clear in his statements and a telephone call to President Vladimir Putin that the United States stands shoulder to shoulder with Russia in our common fight against terrorism. We thank the U.S. administration for its prompt response to the distress call from our government. But even more moving are the expressions of support and offers of help that keep coming from American families. When I look at the sea of flowers at the gate of our embassy or when I see the wet eyes of Americans as they stand in a long line to express their sorrow in our book of condolences, I cannot help but feel that Russians and Americans are united against a common enemy.

The events of Sept. 11, 2001, changed the world we live in, and America, too, is no longer the country it once was. The U.S. government and the American people have drawn serious lessons from that tragedy. We will draw our own lessons from this war that terrorists have brought to our country.

What is needed today is a concerted effort by the civilized world to give a resolute rebuff to all forms of terrorism. No political, ideological or religious objectives can serve as an excuse for baby-killer thugs. Violence can have no political reward. Giving in to terrorist demands means opening the way to more terrorism and countless new victims. The bottom line is that there can be no yielding to terrorists. They will be destroyed, or they will destroy us. This simple truth is fully shared by the U.S. administration, which has reiterated its resolute stand against international terrorism and solidarity with Russia.

It is difficult to comprehend why some U.S. media outlets continue to question the legitimacy of our fight against terrorism in our homeland. Informed people of goodwill may disagree about the origins of the Chechen conflict and the best way to settle it, as they can and do disagree about U.S. policy in the Middle East. But what reasonable people should not ever do is suggest that a monstrous act of terrorism should lead to a fundamental change in state policy in a way demanded by terrorists.


Ambassador of the Russian Federation