Publication: Fortnight in Review Volume: 6 Issue: 16

“If the effort to rally support from Beijing and Pyongyang against U.S. NMD represented one key aim of Russian foreign policy over the past fortnight, then an apparent attempt to counter Washington by backing the ambitions of so-called “rogue” states represented the other. Russian initiatives in this area were highlighted during a three-day visit to Moscow by Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz at the end of July and then a two-day visit by Libyan Foreign Minister Abdel Rahman Shalgam that followed on its heels. Washington criticized both meetings to no effect. The Iraqi-Russian talks were notable for the fact that, for the first time, they were conducted on an official basis. The highlight of the Russian-Libyan talks was an announcement that Putin planned to travel to Tripoli for a meeting with Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. Some Russian commentaries pointed to the Russian-Iraqi and Russian-Libyan talks, as well as to the Kremlin’s recent courtship of Pyongyang, Belgrade and Havana, to argue that Moscow is now attempting to make itself the “irreplaceable” mediator in relations between the West and the world’s “rogue” states.