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Ekho Moskvi, March 12, 2003

Russian politicians react to US ambassador's veiled threats over Iraq veto

US Ambassador in Moscow Alexander Vershbow made quite a statement today. Interviewed by Izvestiya newspaper, he warned Russia that if a veto of the new resolution at the UN Security Council could result in curtailing [Russian-US] cooperation in many areas...

Sergey Karaganov, head of the Council for Foreign and Defence Policy, believes that the American administration, or some of its members, are now on the verge of panic and therefore issuing such statements.

Karaganov: They realize that they have lost the information and propaganda war and that support for their policies on Iraq has waned since two or three months ago. Consequently, desperate efforts are being taken to secure at least external signs of support for their actions, if such actions are taken. But I still hope that the Americans will define their interests soberly, set emotions to one side and understand that in this particular situation postponing the operation is not a defeat but a major victory, which the whole world will greet with applause.

If we turn to the statements [by Vershbow] that certain programmes will be scrapped, few such programmes exist. The scrapping of some of them - cooperation in space and a number of economic programmes - may be painful for Russia. However, most of these programmes, for instance the much-talked-about collaboration in power engineering, have so far been of a political and virtual nature. At this stage this is a statement of intent: so we can hardly speak here about any serious economic damage.

Anchor: Vladimir Lukin, former Russian ambassador to the USA and now deputy speaker of the State Duma, believes that the US ambassador should have refrained from such an interview. Lukin suggested that it would be better to work together in all the areas.

Lukin: I think the tone is hardly appropriate in relations between our countries. I presume that when Ambassador Vershbow was saying this he must have realized that he was using the future tense all the time. The future tense has been in use in talks between Russia and the USA for a considerable time. This conversation should be totally different. We should recall what was promised and not done and every case when we were told it would be fine in future, but nothing actually happened. I think that this interview was, therefore, a mistake. In general, I oppose any public exchange of unpleasantness. I'm not very happy about the constant reiteration by the Russian Foreign Ministry in public that we would use our veto. It may or may not be used, depending on the degree to which the resolution drawn up by the USA and Great Britain is acceptable or not. It is still being drafted, after all. But the USA is making a mistake by publicly announcing how it plans to punish Russia. This merely stirs up passions. I think that at the moment we should work on the resolution that has been put forward. I don't think Russia should heed any warnings of this kind, but should act far more diplomatically than at present, while adhering to the same positions.


See also:

Situation Around Iraq

Ekho Moskvi, March 12, 2003

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