Search  
Click Here!    
Good Morning America World News Tonight 20/20 Primetime Nightline WNN This Week
March 20, 2003
 
HOMEPAGE
NEWS SUMMARY
US
INTERNATIONAL
MONEYScope
WEATHER
LOCAL NEWS
ENTERTAINMENT
ESPN SPORTS
SCI / TECH
POLITICS
HEALTH
TRAVEL
FEATURED SERVICES
RELATIONSHIPS
SHOPPING
DOWNLOADS
WIRELESS
INTERACT
VIDEO & AUDIO
BOARDS
CHAT
NEWS ALERTS
CONTACT ABC
Great Skiing and Riding! (Ad Served by Mediaplex)


(Reuters Photo)
Russia's Putin Turns on U.S. Over War in Iraq

Reuters


Print This Page
Email This Page
See Most Sent
U.S. Military Launches Attack on Iraq
Who's Calling the Shots Against Iraq?
Reporters On the Move with U.S. Forces
March 20

By Ron Popeski

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin, in fierce criticism of the U.S. attack on Baghdad, demanded a quick end to hostilities on Thursday and challenged Washington's view that Iraq was a threat to world security.

Russia had been aligned with France, Germany and China in opposing any resort to military action and demanding more time for U.N. arms inspectors to continue their search for banned weapons in Iraq.

"This military action is unjustified...there has been no answer to the main question which is: are there weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and, if so, which ones," a grim-faced Putin told Russia's top ministers in the Kremlin.

"Military action...is a big political error," he said in nationally-televised remarks, adding it flouted world opinion and international law.

Iraq, he said, "has presented no danger, neither to its neighbors, nor to countries in the region or throughout the world, especially as, after a decade of blockade, it has become a weakened state in both military and economic terms."

Iraq, subject to U.N. sanctions after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait, has denied it holds weapons of mass destruction.

The tone of Putin's speech was closer to the more critical rhetoric that marked the Kremlin's view of U.S. policy before the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States which prompted the two to join hands in a global war on terror.

His comments were notable for the absence of diplomatic niceties toward President Bush, whom he describes as a friend, or sympathy for Washington's case against Iraq.

SAGGING RUSSIAN ECONOMY

The Russian leader, looking for a way to boost a sagging economy, has been dragging his country into the arms of the West, especially the United States. But the crisis over Iraq, with which Russia has longstanding economic ties, appears to have tested the new warmth between Moscow and its Cold War foe.

Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, less conciliatory toward the U.S. position in recent weeks than Putin, later said the two countries were still partners and should work together.

"We remain partners, we are not adversaries. And partners must look together for ways out of tough situations, in this case the situation concerning Iraq," he told reporters.

"If the war continues in Iraq, if it leads to a split in the international community as is now occurring, it would weaken our joint efforts and make us more vulnerable against challenges and threats we are combating."

In his comments in the Kremlin, Putin expressed concern that Washington's decision to proceed without U.N. backing undermined the world body -- one of the few international institutions in which Russia still has a powerful voice.

"Of no less concern is the threat of a collapse of the international security system," he said.

If the world submitted to the right of might, no country would be safe, Putin said. "It is for these reasons that Russia insists on an end as quickly as possible to military action."

One of his senior economic officials said the war could fuel inflation and boost the rouble, hurting Russia's exports.

Deputy Economy Minister Arkady Dvorkovich told reporters that continued high oil prices could push inflation one percentage point above the government's 10-12 percent target.


photo credit and caption:
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) meets top Russia's Defense Ministry officials in Moscow's Kremlin, March 19, 2003. Putin on March 20 condemned U.S. military action against Iraq and called for a rapid end to U.S. operations. Putin told senior ministers in the Kremlin: "Military action can in no way be justified. Military action is a big political error." Photo by Itar-Tass/Reuters

Copyright 2003 Reuters News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

 
 
  RELATED STORIES
International Index
More Raw News
 
 INTERNATIONAL HEADLINES
Iraq Retaliates With Missile Strikes
Iraq in Detail: Timeline, Map, Saddam's Circle
U.S. Firepower in the Persian Gulf
U.S. Could Wear Out Welcome in Iraq
Chaplains Offer Soldiers Spiritual Force

 


Copyright 2003 ABCNEWS Internet Ventures.
Click here for:  HELP   ADVERTISER INFO   CONTACT ABC   TOOLS   PR   TERMS OF USE   PRIVACY POLICY

Family of sites:      ABC.com        ABC Family        ESPN.com        Disney.com        FamilyFun.com        GO Mail        Movies.com