The key question is whether the conflicts in Kosovo and Chechnya do bear much resemblance. Certain parallels between these two conflicts exist without a doubt. Thus, both cases involve powerful separatist movements, which emerged after the collapse of the Soviets, with ethnic and religious factors underlying them: they have unfolded on almost exclusively Muslim territories (Albanians in Kosovo and Chechens in Chechnya) population of which mistrusted the respective federal authorities. In both cases these movements have formed their own military forces to rely on: the Armed Forces of Ichkeria in Chechnya and the Liberation Army in Kosovo. And finally, military solution has been chosen as an appropriate conflict management strategy in both cases.
In spite of the numerous parallels, the most important distinction between the conflicts is evident as well. In former Yugoslavia NATO conducted warfare against a sovereign state though claiming to act out of humanitarian concerns; the Russian Federation embarked on the still ongoing hostilities in order to secure the territorial integrity of the state and suppress secessionism in Chechnya. However, this distinction does not relate to the underlying nature of these conflicts: it has emerged as the result of NATO's solution to intervene in Kosovo and not intervene in Chechnya. Given the numerous parallels between both conflicts, it does require serious analysis to understand the reasons underlying NATO's intensive military efforts in former Yugoslavia and lack of similar actions in Chechnya.
NATO justified its decision to use force in Kosovo on the basis of the so-called 'international humanitarian emergency'. The origins of this concept can be traced back to the Nigerian Civil War (1967-1970). A famine which followed the conflict killed hundreds thousand people, but was ignored by the Western states in the name of non-intervention and neutrality doctrines. However, the idea that under certain circumstances the principle of the sovereignty of states might be questioned emerged to receive further theoretical development in the 1980s. In the 1990s, the Europe for the first time witnessed how this right of humanitarian intervention could be implemented in practice during the interventions in Bosnia and Kosovo.
The armed forces of the Alliance attacked Yugoslavia under the pretence of defending the human rights of Kosovo population. The essence of their claim was since the forces of Yugoslavian government were engaged in repeated, and systematic violence against its own citizens, NATO's choice of the military intervention as the only effective method of protecting human rights was fully justified (Annan, 1999). The case for war in Kosovo immediately generated much criticism associated with the ambiguity of the juridical status of a right to intervene, validity and relevance of statistical data on human rights abuses in Kosovo, and questionable ethical aspects of using military power to restore peace. Yet perhaps the most difficult enquiry related to the Kosovo precedent came from those whom questioned the reasons for NATO's decision to intervene in Kosovo and not in Chechnya where the statistics for human rights abuses was even more frightening than in Yugoslavia. An overview of existing statistical data