President Clinton urged an end to the violence in Chechnya on Friday, but said Moscow’s bloody effort to subdue the breakaway region has not diminished his support for friendly relations with Russia.
“It would be a terrible mistake to react reflexively to the ups and downs that Russia is experiencing and was bound to experience all along … as it undergoes a historic transformation,” Clinton told a group of central and eastern European business and government leaders here.
The war in Chechnya, “terrible though it is, has not changed the nature of our interest,” said Clinton, calling for “continued American support for reform in Russia.”
“But the violence must end,” Clinton said. “I call again on all the parties to stop spilling blood and start making peace.”
Administration officials in recent weeks have been laboring to walk a fine line with respect to the Chechnya crisis.
U.S. officials have acknowledged that the Russians have violated international accords and needlessly killed civilians with a brutal military action. But the administration has not wavered from its view that President Boris Yeltsin remains the best hope for keeping Russian on a path toward democratic reform.