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Parliamentarians say Russia should not veto Iraq Resolution

Speaking at a roundtable in Moscow on 13 March, Duma Deputy Speaker Irina Khakamada (Union of Rightist Forces) said that Russia should abstain if the joint U.S.-U.K.-Spanish draft UN Security Council resolution on Iraq is put to a vote, RFE/RL's Russian Service reported.

The best role for Russia now, in Khakamada's opinion, is to server as a broker between the United States and those countries opposed to a military operation in Iraq. In order to play this role, Russia must adopt a position of neutrality and refrain from using its Security Council veto. Deputy Aleksei Mitrofanov, deputy head of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia's (LDPR) Duma faction, told the roundtable that Russia should not make "too broad a coalition with Western Europe" because the interests of those countries in Iraq differ from Russia's. Moscow, he said, should offer to participate in a military action against the regime of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and "enter into Iraq together with U.S. troops."

Leonid Slutskii (LDPR), deputy chairman of the Duma's Foreign Relations Committee, wrote in "Izvestiya" on 12 March that Russia has acted correctly in not allowing the joint Russian-French-German stance on Iraq to assume anti-American overtones. Moscow's position has shown that Russia is not only pursuing its own national interests but is also sticking to its principles. He added that any split between the United States and Europe is not likely to last long, and Russia could have found itself isolated.

(RFE/RL 14.iii.03)

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