Skip to comments.ANALYSIS-Putin might risk bloody end to school siege
Posted on 09/02/2004 1:18:45 PM PDT by Destro
ANALYSIS-Putin might risk bloody end to school siege
02 Sep 2004 15:14:00 GMT
By Douglas Busvine
MOSCOW (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday the safety of 350 hostages held in a Russian school was paramount, but analysts warned he might order special forces to storm the building and risk a repeat of past bloodbaths.
The history of Russian operations to free hostages in recent years is a grim one, with hundreds of innocents killed.
But attempts to negotiate with the captors, believed to be Chechen separatist militants, could make a mockery of Putin's strategy of using force to impose order in the Caucasus region of southern Russia, security analysts said.
"If the situation develops in a way that threatens the lives of hostages... then storming is the only possibility," said Boris Makarenko, a security analyst at the Center for Political Technologies in Moscow.
And any casualties among the many children held at School No.1 in Beslan, North Ossetia, are likely to inflame the seething, multi-ethnic Caucasus further, analysts warn.
Twenty-six women and children were freed in Beslan on Thursday.
But analysts noted that children were also freed in the Moscow theatre siege of October 2002 before Putin, who had earlier called for talks, ordered special forces to storm the building.
Of 700 hostages, 129 died from the effects of a knock-out gas used in the operation. All 41 Chechen captors were killed.
In a disastrous operation to end the Budennovsk hospital siege of 1995, more than 100 hostages died before their captors won safe passage. In Pervomaiskoye in 1996, there were more hostage deaths, and many guerrillas escaped a military dragnet.
"The Russians will assault the school without a doubt, they have done it in every single case," said Adam Dolnik, a Singapore-based security analyst and co-author of a detailed study of the Moscow theatre siege.
"They will likely stall for time in order to get enough intelligence about the location, they will search for ways in and they will prepare a plan. I would expect the assault within the next two days, if history is anything to go by."
Analysts said Wednesday's attack by a heavily-armed gang on the school was highly professional, and past experience shows that the gym where the hostages are held is likely to be mined.
The captors chose their target well. North Ossetia has been peaceful since a conflict in the early 1990s with neighbouring Ingushetia, which borders Chechnya, and any deaths of local children could provoke fresh hostilities.
"These are Ossetian kids. The reaction of Ossetians may be extremely dangerous," said Alexei Malashenko, a security analyst at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Moscow.
"We could be on the eve of the next war."
According to news reports, the captors have demanded the release of comrades captured in a raid on Ingushetia in June.
Analysts say that demand would be impossible for Putin to concede, leaving confidence-building measures such as offering to supply water, food and medicine as the only avenue for talks.
"It's almost impossible for him to give in to any of these demands -- but there are the lives of children at stake," said Thomas de Waal, a Chechnya expert at the Institute for War and Peace Reporting in London.
"There will be some kind of negotiation over the everyday stuff -- food, medicines and so on. Beyond that I don't see much to talk about."
Paul Wilkinson, of the Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence at Scotland's St Andrews University, said he hoped Putin would moderate his position -- however difficult that might be.
"President Putin came to office on a very tough position on terrorism and has capitalised on that ever since. The recent spate of attacks has put this policy to the test," he said.
"How can one say the policy of firm military response is working?" he added, saying Putin should open a peace dialogue with moderate Chechens and call for international mediation. (Additional reporting by Mark Trevelyan, Security Correspondent, in Berlin)
Negotiate with terrorists, and you will get more terrorism.
I'd wager that it was a little more than a coincidence that Basayev's death brigades went after a school of Christian kids.
Not that he's been too shy about killing Muslims or anybody else in Ingushetia, Dagestan, or Kabardino-Balkaria.
Is CNN still calling them rebels?
I think he will blow them all away...
Come on, Reuters, say it. Losers.
Yes, but it is hard to sit back and let them kill kids. I do not envy Putin in this situation.
The real question is what the Russians will do AFTER this is over, especially if there are significant numbers of children killed.
Fox is reporting (Fox News Alert btw) a loud explosion at the school.
no, you release the prisoners, send them to Chechnya (however you spell it) and then nuke them all.
How about slow acting poison? Or a bomb implanted inside each one?
Or put more accurately, "We could be the next ones to recognize that we are at war."
Putin may very well have his hand forced soon. So far, reports are that the terrorists are refusing to accept food deliveries. Well, people can go without food for quite a while but if there is no access to drinking water in there, or the terrorists are not allowing the kids to get to it, this whole thing will have to come to a head in the next couple of days. Horrible situation, to be sure.
Gas the place with BZ gas.
Christian Ossentians are being goaded by al-Qaeda's Chechen branch to launch revenge attacks on Muslim Ingusentians who are by inlarge peaceful. So like Bin Laden sending Saudis to carry out 9/11 they sent in Ingush Muslim terrorists fighting for the Chechens in order to spread the war out if Chechnya. That is what the author means by "We could be on the eve of the next war."
What will the Russians do?? Do? The Russian people will grumble if there are dead children and get on with it.
Terrorists will plan the next target knowing it is a suicide operation and Putin will fine tune the military response troops. As wrenching as it is, being more sensitive is not the answer. Putin is KGB and tough as nails.
Sadly, Putin has joined a long line of failed Russian leaders. Even Yeltzin had a bigger set.
When this siege is over, Putin has got to do something. This last week or so has been evidence that doing nothing = mild appeasement.
LOL. More like tough as gummy bears.
Another poster on a different thread had a good suggestion; that the Russians round up say 500 Chechens and chain them to the schoolhouse.
As John Kennedy said, lower level staff can handle decisions concering right and wrong. The President's job is to choose between awful and Gawdawful. That would apply to Putin or any country's leader.
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