The latest word out of war-ravaged Chechnya is anything but encouraging. The Moslem mini-state in the Caucasus mountains is still determined to follow other former Soviet republics into independence. For Moscow's part, there are few signs of any let-up in Russia's resolve to crush this separatist drive.

So it's too soon to hope this week's temporary and shaky cease-fire will last long enough to evolve into a permanent halt to the sickening bloodshed. But it's not too soon to start learning the lessons taught by this grim episode.For one thing, the brutality of the Russian campaign - including beatings and summary executions of prisoners and civilians, wanton looting and burning of houses - should remind everyone of why the demise of the Soviet Union was so welcome.

For another, the blundering execution of the campaign by untrained and ill-equipped Russian troops should remind Moscow's neighbors to remain on the guard but retain confidence in their ability to repel any renewed expansionism on Russia's part as long as they remain strong.

For still another, the United States and its allies have reason to reconsider their knee-jerk support of Boris Yeltsin and reappraise their promises of economic and other aid to Russia as long as he remains in charge in Moscow. What matters more than a specific leader or leaders are the continued pursuit of democratic and free-market reforms, the dismantling of nuclear weapons, and making sure that promised elections take place on schedule.

Amid all the setbacks and gloomy prospects, at least one positive development has emerged from the 10-week conflict: the confirmation and consolidation of glasnost, the Russian policy of openness.

Consider: The Russian press has reported the conflict. It also has carried spirited comment, including vigorous criticism of Yeltsin and his brutal treatment of Chechnya. Such candor would have been unimaginable - indeed, lethal for the messengers - only a few years ago.

As long as glasnost remains firmly in place, there's reason for guarded hope that Russia can still evolve into a more peaceful and responsible member of the international community.