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Moscow thinks Iraq War is imminent

The Emergency Situations Ministry announced on 6 March that it has brought an additional 150 Russian citizens to Moscow from Iraq and that another five flights are scheduled before 10 March that will evacuate virtually all the Russians remaining in that country, RIA-Novosti and other Russian news agencies reported. Russian oil majors Yukos, LUKoil, and Zarubezhneft have all reportedly summoned their employees home.

Lenta.ru commented on 6 March that the Emergency Situations Ministry's move is a sign that Moscow has few hopes that a peaceful solution to the Iraq crisis will be found, and that war appears imminent. The website commented that the only issue for Russia now is what role it will play in postwar Iraq.

A high-ranking U.S. diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity told Interfax on 6 March that Russia's opposition to U.S. policy has not gone unnoticed and could have an impact on many aspects of bilateral relations, including U.S. support for Russia's rapid accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO).

In his evening commentary on ORT, Mikhail Leontev -- who is known for his hostile attitude toward the United States -- said the most important issue is not Iraq itself, but the role of the United Nations. "The UN will be dead in any case. It will be suicide if it approves [a U.S.-led military action], and it will be its death if it does not approve [such an action] and its decision is ignored," Leontev said.

(RFE/RL 07.iii.03)

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