Sources in the Russian Foreign Ministry have told RIA Novosti that some certain circles in Washington "sometimes" interpret a state's right to self-defence "too freely." The sources were commenting on the US preparations for a military operation against Iraq.
The right to self-defence is clearly stated in international law, the Russian ministry sources stressed, citing article 51 of the UN Charter. The article reads "Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations." However, self-defence can be exercised "until the Security Council has taken measures to maintain international peace and security." Article 51 reads, "Measures taken by Members in the exercise of this right of self-defence shall be immediately reported to the Security Council and shall not in any way affect the authority and responsibility of the Security Council under the present Charter to take at any time such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain and restore international peace and security." The Russian Foreign Ministry sources are convinced that it would be unacceptable to violate UN Security Council resolutions, while they also stressed that Russia was against any unilateral military operations without UN backing.