Russia might initiate a different kind of new world order
The Russian government allowed a leak of information, which said that the new United Nations resolution on Iraq (which is currently being developed by the US State Department) is not good for Russia. The Iraqi opposition has already claimed that all oil contracts made by the "dictator" are going to be reconsidered. It was added, however, that preference will be given to American oil companies. It does not matter what role Russia would like to obtain in the new world order. It is perfectly clear that Russian interests in Iraq cost much more. Vladimir Putin allegedly promised that he will stand up for the interests of the Russian oil producers in Iraq.
Well informed Moscow sources said to the Polit.Ru website that the new variant of the UN resolution on Iraq will not have many differences from previous American and British suggestions on the subject. This will definitely not be good for Russia and other permanent members of the UN Security Council, which are against military aggression towards Iraq.
Russian politicians expressed their disappointment with the American policy, since they expected that more attention would be paid to the positions of other countries. However, it seems that the USA intends to grab it all. Spokesman for the opposition Iraqi National Congress Sharaf bin Ali Hussein has already found time to announce that all oil contracts will be reconsidered if the opposition comes to power in Iraq. He particularly mentioned contracts with Russian and French oil companies. Ali Hussein added that this does not mean that those contracts will be eliminated. They will just take into account of the “dictator’s” signature. The leader of the Iraqi opposition promised that priority will be given to American oil companies.
It is obvious that this potential new Iraqi government is not interesting either for Moscow or for Paris. The idea of the Russian military headquarters organizing its own coup in Iraq is becoming more and more real. Russia has no other such interests in other countries of the Middle East. The protection of these interests is likely to become a new national idea, an idea that Boris Yeltsin and Co. failed to find.
Russian oil giant LUKOIL’s contract for the development of Iraqi oil deposits is evaluated to be worth $20 billion. LUKOIL concluded a contract with the Iraqi state oil company. The extraction of oil can not be started until the lifting of UN sanctions. However, LUKOIL has already managed to invest a lot of money in the development of the deposit.
It is worth mentioning here that similar contracts were concluded with the Iraqi government by Western oil companies as well, for example, the French company Totalfinaelf SA and the Italian company Eni Spa. Experts had doubts regarding those transactions. Now it is becoming obvious that the American administration wants all Iraqi oil for its own oil companies.
The Wall Street Journal wrote about an opportunity of new competition for the development of the deposits, which have already been invested in by the above-mentioned companies. This is not good for anyone else other than America, for Russia, first and foremost.
President of the Russian company LUKOIL Vagit Alekperov does not want to hide the fact that he has repeatedly discussed the fate of the Russian oil companies in Iraq. He particularly discussed the issue pertaining to LUKOIL’s controlling stock in the Iraqi oil project with Vladimir Putin.
LUKOIL’s president said that neither Washington nor the Kremlin promised him any guarantees. However, Alekperov is still sure that his contract will remain legal, no matter what kind of future regime Iraq might have. “Our contract was signed according to the norms of the international law. I am sure that Iraqi laws will be observed regardless of events,” said Vagit Alekperov.
LUKOIL’s Vice President Leonid Fedun earlier stated that if the new Iraqi regime is not friendly to Russia, it might ruin the plans of the company in Iraq. “Furthermore, we do not hear any statements from the American government about the execution of the current contracts. As far as I can understand, the Russian leadership must be interested in these questions,” said Leonid Fedun.
To top it off, LUKOIL already has certain difficulties with the incumbent Iraqi administration. Iraq tried to force the Russian company do the things that were not stipulated in the contract. The LUKOIL administration was even forced to announce the cessation of its activities in Iraq. That statement was explained by the possibility of a military operation in Iraq. However, LUKOIL does not want to hide the fact that the obtrusiveness of Iraqi officials is becoming tiresome for Russian oligarchs.
Russia has realized the inevitability of an American war against Iraq. This is the common opinion that Western countries have about Russia nowadays. Russian diplomacy does not have any real opportunity to influence the situation. Only a mentally unbalanced person would think to render military support to the Iraqi “dictator.” No Russian man will go to defend Hussein’s regime. Hussein is not one of the “good guys.”
Foreign analysts are right when they say that the Russian government was disappointed with Saddam Hussein’s regime and his policy. The World Tribune wrote that Putin did not believe anymore that Baghdad would payback its ten billion dollar debt. Iraq has this debt from the Cold War era, when Soviet specialists came to Iraq for the first time and established the oil industry there. Yet, the return of that debt is a lot more attractive to Russia than even its share in Iraqi oil.
On the other hand, Russian oligarchs continue to say that President Putin is sure that the end of Saddam’s regime will never exert any negative influence on Iraq. A spokesman for LUKOIL Mikhail Dolgov said that Moscow is obliged to stand up for the interests of Russian companies in Iraq, regardless of the Baghdad regime. Vladimir Putin has to work on this problem now. The presidential election is to take place in Russia in 2004. Putin might pay with his second term for the helplessness of the Russian government in the Iraqi problem. Presidents cannot afford such jokes.
What if Russia deploys its commandos to Baghdad for the sake of saving the people of Iraq from the horror of war? This no longer seems to be the idea of a lunatic. This move could become much more efficient. Probably, it could provoke a crisis that the CIA and the US State Department analysts did not even think of. Then, it will be the time for a different kind of world order, taking into consideration everybody’s interests.
Dmitry Slobodanuk PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov
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