Hostage Standoff in Moscow.

Listen / Download

It’s a no win situation. Not far from the Kremlin, hundreds of theatregoers are being held by dozens of Chechen rebels. The gunmen demand the withdrawal of all troops from Chechnya, a popular notion even among Russian people.

But in a terrorist crisis, for a leader who’s trademarked a strong-arm policy in the rebel province, military capitulation hardly seems a real option. What’s a Russian president to do?

The rebels are sorting the hostages to three groups: Russians, Ukrainians and others, signaling that they will release the foreigners, including Americans. Getting the world’s eyes trained again on their hard-hit homeland is apparently all part of the plan.


Graham Alison, director of Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Studies;

Christian Science Monitor reporter Fred Weir in Moscow

Alexander Golts, visiting fellow at Stanford’s Center for
International Security and Cooperation and senior editor of the political section at the Russian weekly news magazine “Zhurnal”