Plans by a group representing Russian soldiers’ mothers to meet an envoy of Chechen rebels have been condemned by the Kremlin.
The women say they have made no progress in trying to persuade the government to end the conflict so they have decided approach the rebels.
The group’s leader said: “We’ve been talking to the authorities for ten years. We, along with the parents of sons who died or were left disabled by the war, keep asking the president to stop the war on Russian soil. But if the Russian authorities are not ready for peace well talk to the other side.”
But a Russian foreign ministry spokesman said the talks would not lead to a positive outcome.
“Think about it, what can they agree on? These terrorists shoot children in their backs. If you ask me personally, I don’t believe these talks can yield any results, but we can’t prevent non-governmental organisations from making these contacts,” he said.
Moscow has been battling separatists in Chechen since 1994. It is estimated more than 200,000 people have been killed in two wars. The conflict has taken a heavy toll on Russian forces many of whom are conscripts.
The soldiers’ mothers are hoping to meet Chechen leader Aslan Maskhadov in Brussels on Tuesday but are still waiting on visas from Belgian officials.