The situation in Beslan in Russia has ended in predictable horror. Whilst Russian behaviour in Chechnya has never been a model of surgical restraint, I have yet to hear plausible accounts of Russian forces rounding up children, blowing them up and then shooting survivors as they try to flee.
The horrors of September 11 2001 have receded into being little more than a ‘televisual curiosity’ in many circles in the USA. However the Russians have been getting regular reminders about the nature of the enemy with whom they are at war, an enemy by no means unconnected from Al Qaeda.
In Beslan, one of the surviving terrorists was kicked to death by enraged civilians after being dragged out of an ambulance and I suspect this is just a hint of what is to come on a far greater scale. The political pressure on Vladimir Putin to move against anyone even suspected of sympathies with Chechen Islamists will now be overwhelming.
Coming on the heels of the destruction of two Russian domestic airliners, a great many Russians will probably see the extermination of Chechnya as simply a matter of survival and I fear Chechen innocents will be given about as much consideration as those Chechen terrorists gave the innocent Russian children of Beslan.