Anchor: The Iraqi crisis is deepening...
Grigory Yavlinsky: Our first point is that Russia should oppose war in Iraq. If there is a war, Russia must do everything possible to minimize the number of casualties, especially among civilians. Another important task for Russia is to contribute to a change of regime in Iraq. There is a totalitarian regime there, which is dangerous for us.
What can be done in the present situation to avoid a war in Iraq? In my opinion, analysis demonstrates that it is necessary to deploy a large number of international troops in the region. The forces would put an enormous pressure on the totalitarian Iraqi regime and would control the transitional period for a long time. Besides, we need to create conditions that leave Saddam Hussein with no room for manoeuvre. In this case he would realise that he could really lose power, money and oil. Then the regime would gradually start to be transformed. In other words, these things need to be done together: large international forces, huge pressure on Iraq, control over the situation in the region, but no direct conflict for as long as possible. Incidentally, in these circumstances, more experts are needed to work there to create sufficient pressure on Saddam Hussein: they need to work more systematically, probably for a longer period. This method has been known for a long time: if you want peace, prepare for war. Russia's response must be absolutely clear: everything possible needs to be done to change the regime to make it completely harmless and friendly for Russia, but we should try at all costs to avoid war and avoid being drawn into a war, refuse to sacrifice civilians, and minimize casualties when the war starts.
Correspondent: What would be the economic consequences for Russia of a war in Iraq?
Yavlinsky: If there is an agreement between the Russian and the US presidents about compensation for losses caused by a fall in the oil price after the conflict in Iraq, Russia would then for some time find itself in a more or less beneficial position. However, the USA has said that after 15 to 20 years its consumption of oil will drop dramatically and that they want to get rid of this dependence. It is imperative that Russia become as soon as possible a modern, high-technology country. Russia must not live like a drug addict on oil and gas.