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Vladimir Putin: Military Action against Iraq Can Not Be Justified - 20 March, 2003

Nothing can justify military action against Iraq according to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who addressed the Russian population today. He said that such action against Iraq can not be justified 'either by accusing Iraq of supporting international terrorism or by the simple desire to change the regime, which should only be done on the basis of international law. Military action is opposed by the world community and it defies the norms of international law,' Mr Putin insisted.

'Significant progress had already been made in disarming Iraq by peaceful means,' the president said, mentioning the work of the UN Security Council.

As president of a permanent member state of the UN Security Council Mr Putin expressed his appreciation and gratitude to the international inspectors. 'They did their work honestly and responsibly, demonstrating both professionalism and courage,' the president said.

'The decision to attack Iraq is a big political mistake,' Mr Putin added. 'We must never allow our system of international security to be replaced by a heavy-handed approach where the strongest are always right and have unlimited power to achieve their own objectives. If the principles of international law are violated like this nobody will ever feel safe.'

'Russia still intends to seek a democratic solution to the Iraq crisis, which is based on the authority of the United Nations,' Mr Putin emphasised.