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The conflict -- not likely to end any time soon -- is bound to have serious long-term repercussions for the Russian federation as well as for all of Eastern Europe, says TIME Moscow correspondent Yuri Zarakhovich. "If there was ever any doubt that Eastern Europe countries would seek the protection of the West and NATO, now that's gone," he says. Furthermore, Zarakhovich, who witnessed the sacking of Grozny from the front lines a week ago, says that the events might portend "the beginning of the end of the Russian federation." The attacks, Zarakhovich notes, stunned many Russians who are beginning to wonder whether "Yeltsin would use the same kind of force if he had problems in Moscow."