Skip to comments.Russia "categorically opposed" to military strikes against Iraq
Posted on 12/21/2001 7:18:11 PM PST by AdrianZ
New claim of Iraqi chemical cache
Ian Traynor in Moscow, and Michael White political editor
Friday December 21, 2001
Moscow warned Washington last night that a US military campaign to drive Saddam Hussein from power in Baghdad would demolish the anti-terrorist coalition forged since September 11.
In the starkest warning on Iraq since President Vladimir Putin lined up unequivocally behind the US for the war against Afghan-based terrorists, a senior Russian foreign ministry official said Russia was "categorically opposed" to military strikes against Iraq.
Mr Putin, in an interview published earlier this week, also criticised talk of attacks on Iraq, a traditional ally of Russia and one that also owes Moscow more than £5bn.
The US assistant secretary of state, John Wolf, has been in Moscow for the past two days for talks on Iraq. Ostensibly the topic was the UN sanctions regime against Iraq; but it appeared Mr Wolf was sounding out Russia on expanding the war against terror to Iraq.
In a statement to the Interfax new agency last night after meeting Mr Wolf, Sergei Ordzhonikidze, a Russian deputy foreign minister, reiterated that any US and British bombing of Iraq would be considered illegitimate by Moscow.
Moscow's unalloyed support of President George Bush's war on terrorism would end if Iraq were attacked, as there was no evidence that Iraq had played a part in the suicide attacks mounted against US cities on September 11, he said.
Washington's Nato allies in Europe agree with Russia.
Mr Putin is about to pay a flying pre-Christmas visit to Chequers where he will meet Tony Blair to establish a working group on terrorism. The group will include defence, intelligence and diplomatic officials and become part of the growing network of ties between the US, the EU and their former strategic rival, determined to become once again a mainstream player.
Mr Putin and his wife will be given the red carpet treatment during his 24 hours of talks and schmoozing with the Blairs at the prime minister's country retreat in the Chilterns, their fourth meeting this year.
Ah, Stalin had him un-shot.
Or he violated his 'kill the traitors' offspring' rule.