Vladimir Putin’s recent interview with the Wall Street Journal was a so-called response to George Bush’s statement that three countries with which Russia has close contacts in the economic and political spheres are the “axis of evil."
Unlike Washington, Moscow does not consider North Korea, Iran, and Iraq to be the key threats to world security. Russia has rather stable relations with Iran. North Korean leader Kim Jong-il visited Russia last year. As for Iraq, Russian diplomats have been saying for a long period already that the implementation of the UN Security Council’s resolutions is to be connected with the lifting of the sanctions imposed on the country.
President Putin thinks negatively of the possibility of breaking international norms concerning Iraq. He said, “This does not mean that under certain conditions in the future Russia will be unable to cooperate with the USA and settle the terrorism problem in the coalition’s network.” Thus, Russia reserves the chance for a maneuver, but it will not slam the door.
There was a short pause in the polemics between Russia and the USA. On receiving the statement, Washington issued an adequate reply. Press-secretary of the US presidential administration Ari Fleisher said, “George Bush does not exclude any variants of actions” against Iran, Iraq, and North Korea. At that, if some contradictions with President Putin arise, Washington may apply to other partners and not Russia. In Fleisher’s words, the president does not wish to lose time, as he is concentrating on the protection of Americans. Certainly, the USA really appreciates cooperation with Russia, but, as Interfax reported, “it is also possible to create coalitions with different countries for different purposes.”
Analysts have been anticipating this statement from Washington for a long period already. Coolness in the relations between the two countries, so ardently denied by both parties, has so clearly been outlined. It has been a plain hint to Russia that if it is not so complaisant, its participation in the anti-terror coalition may end, especially regarding the fact that the war in Afghanistan is over. The USA is irritated by the fact that Russia objects to the compiling of a so-called black list of outlaw countries, the list liked so much by President Bush.
Now it looks as though it is the Kremlin that is to pause for a while. Indeed, there is much to think about. As for the “different purposes” mentioned in Ari Fleisher’s statement, the USA’s nearest objective is an incursion into Iraq. For this very purpose, the coalition is to be created; in addition to the USA, Great Britain, Turkey, and Israel are to be included into it. The whole of the operation is certainly to be held without the UN Security Council’s sanction. If it is a success (but I doubt that it will be), the scheme can be applied to other countries.
Dmitry Chirkin PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://www.pravda.ru/main/2002/02/12/36942.html