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Vremya Novostei, September 25, 2003

"The Defeat of the USA is Our Defeat."

By Kseniya Veretennikova

On the threshold of Bush-Putin summit, the leader of YABLOKO Grigory Yavlinsky expressed his views on regulating the situation in Iraq.

President Vladimir Putin is meeting with President George W. Bush tomorrow. The situation in Iraq is expected to a key issue in the talks. YABLOKO leader Grigory Yavlinsky, the politician who submitted a Cold War plan against Iraq to the US a year ago and conducted corresponding negotiations, made a statement yesterday on the possible prospects of Russian-American relations. Yavlinsky proposes building relations with America on the basis of equality and clear mutual benefits. According to Yavlinsky, the defeat of the coalition troops in Iraq would mean Russia's defeat, as it would incite terrorism and extremism on a global level. The issue of how Russia can participate constructively in the peace process in Iraq is on the agenda.

Six months ago when Vladimir Putin spoke about the mistake of the USA, he nevertheless qualified this mistake as a partner's mistake. He even stressed that "Russia is not interested in the US defeat." And now at the summit with G. Bush Jr. Putin, according to Yavlinsky, will remind him of Russia's position and once again mark our partnership attitude.

Yavlinsky is categorically opposed to the idea of sending Russian troops to Iraq. In fact, the upcoming presidential election in Russia apparently rules out this option entirely. On the other hand, Russia can help the American partner even without committing its military might to the common cause. "Russia may participate in the regulation of the situation around Iraq through political and diplomatic assistance, thinks Yavlinsky: “Our participation can be effective, for example, in the Kurdish regions of Iraq, as Russia's relations with the Kurds have been traditionally good. We can also help with the technical restoration of the Iraqi economy, in particular, the oil sector. Especially as many of the oil sector facilities in Iraq were built by the Soviet Union."

Yavlinsky is certain that at the coming summit the presidents should think about how they could raise the role of international organisations. In his view the UN’s participation in regulation of the situation in Iraq should be expanded, even though it would be difficult to implement: bloody attacks against UN personnel and its institutions lead to a reduction in the UN’s activities in Iraq.

Russia hopes that its opinion will at long last be heeded. Yavlinsky's proposal to replace tough violent action in Iraq through a demonstration of real force, a kind of "cold war" backed by the entire international community was unfortunately rejected by the US. However, the tactic lost on Iraq is now used against the North Korean regime. This is confirmed by the multinational military naval exercises of the fleets of 11 countries in the close proximity of the peninsula and the movement of Chinese troops to the borders of North Korea.

According to Yavlinsky, during the negotiations Putin should not raise the issue of the participation of Russian oil companies in the Iraqi oil industry. "We have greater priorities - stability and security," thinks YABLOKO's leader. He also disagrees with the widespread opinion that the Americans aimed to grab Iraq's oil fields. According to Yavlinsky's estimates, it will take 8-10 years to restore Iraq’s oil potential. Constant acts of sabotage and terrorist attacks only further complicate the situation.

Yavlinsky also called irresponsible numerous statements made by Russian politicians - that the USA and their allies should completely leave Iraq. According to Yavlinsky, the immediate withdrawal of troops from the region would leave Iraq as a source of instability for many years ahead. "The allies' troops should only leave Iraq, when stability has been established and the guarantees of its preservation for the foreseeable future are unquestionable. Not a day later, not a day sooner," said Yavlinsky.

The summit will not be reduced to the Iraq problem alone. The presidents will also discuss strategic partnership between Russia and the United States in other spheres, in particular, energy, missile defence, access to markets for Russia and exchange in high technologies.

According to Yavlinsky, at the summit Putin should raise the issue of abolishing trade restrictions for Russia that were adopted during the "cold war". Some American politicians who oppose cooperation with Russia will be against this decision. "Anti-Russian phobias are typical of people, whose mentality is forever frozen on the "cold war", Yavlinsky said. - Some strategists in Washington, unable to understandthe realities of the 21st century and refusing to admit the importance of international cooperation for the USA, are pushing their policies along a very difficult, dangerous, and expensive path, destroying much of what was created in the world with so much difficulty over the past 50 years."


See also:

Situation Around Iraq

Russia - US Relations

Vremya Novostei, September 25, 2003

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