Russia is the key player at a crucial moment in world diplomatic history, a voice of calm in a sea of madness. Russia’s response to the winds of war at the forthcoming UN General Assembly meeting on Thursday will spell out the immediate future of world history.
Britain and the United States are convinced that they can persuade enough members of the UN Security Council to vote in favour of military action, provided that Russia can be won over first. The sheer arrogance of the position is reflected in media reports which claim that western diplomats consider that “Russia can be bought off” (The Times).
The point is that Russia has systematically and coherently defended the same position throughout this sorry tale of personal and regional interests, constantly reiterating the need for a diplomatic solution to the crisis, wholly in line with the spirit of the United Nations Charter which so many nations wish to tear up and forget upon a whim or a caprice.
The modern-day Russian Federation reiterates the peace-loving and internationally cooperative stance adopted by the Soviet Union of yesterday. While Russia has made it clear that it will not support a resolution which goes in favour of military action against Iraq, it could consider counter-proposals which would give the Iraqi authorities a time limit by which to admit the entry of the UNMOVIC inspection team to verify whether or not Saddam Hussein’s regime has Weapons of Mass Destruction.
At present, the issue has been hijacked by the anniversary of September 11th, with leaders of the Bush administration scandalously placing the two questions in the same basket and with the international press speculating about how many WMD Iraq has, despite declarations to the contrary by those who should know.
Of the P5 members (the five permanent members of the Security Council with the right of veto), France and Britain are expected to back the motion for an ultimatum, while China’s Ziang Zemin is expected not to want to rock the boat before his last summit as Chinese leader with George Bush next month in Texas. This leaves Russia with the most powerful vote.
Of the non-permanent members, the friendship of Mexican President Vicente Fox with George Bush and the extensive military aid being given to Columbia should secure the votes of these two Latin American countries in favour of the USA, while in Africa, Mauritius, Guinea Conakry and Cameroon are all vulnerable to US carrot-and-stick methods of diplomacy. In Europe, Ireland and Norway will go the same way as the P5, while Bulgaria will do as it is told if it wants early entry into the EU. Singapore will vote with the majority, leaving Syria the only nation outside the P5 expected to vote against military action.
Russia again assumes its position at the crossroads of international diplomacy as Moscow reappears on the international stage as a major player in the crisis management of a situation which could very well dictate the medium term future of world history.
Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.Ru