Getting Serious in Russia's War on Terror

Russia's decision to spend an extra 157 billion rubles (over $5 billion) to fight terrorism is a more impressive response than all the Kremlin's recent tough talk, including President Vladimir Putin's demand that more power be centralized in his hands. Indeed, after the hostage crisis in the Dubrovka Theater in Moscow in 2002, the same sort of harsh words flowed, but no extra money was spent.

These new billions do seem to demonstrate renewed government resolve, but is throwing money at the war on terror enough?

The Kremlin refuses to publicly admit that today's terrorism has its roots predominantly in the Chechen war, which is now metastasizing throughout the Northern Caucasus. Chechen fighters and their supporters demonstrate almost daily that the war continues, and countless bold pronouncements, like newly elected Chechen president Alu Alkhanov's recent assertion that "effective measures" have been found to combat terror, look like mere bloviation.

According to Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin, huge amounts of money are needed to resolve the Chechen problem. But financial inflows into Chechnya are often more destabilizing than helpful. President Akhmat Kadyrov, the murdered Chechen president, was right to suggest that 80% of this money ends up in the pockets of Moscow and regional firms who benefit from the Chechen conflict continuing.