The attack on the Chechen parliament by militants today is a serious incident that ought to be deplored. For the Russian president, however, the most powerful message may be one of restraint.
A glance at the history between Moscow and the troubled republic of Chechnya paints a stark picture of the chaos that could have ensued in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union. In the scale of the brutality and the human costs, on both sides, Chechnya stands out as the exception to an otherwise remarkably orderly break-up of the Soviet bloc. But the case of Chechnya also offers a lesson in the dangers of confronting nationalism with brute force.