On the eve of a visit to Moscow by a top Iraqi diplomat, Russia’s Foreign Ministry yesterday continued to take credit for Baghdad’s pledge not to fire on allied aircraft patrolling the expanded "no-fly zones" over Iraq. But, in contrast to the sharply condemnatory language used by Moscow in the immediate wake of U.S. strikes on Iraq, Russian deputy foreign minister Viktor Posuvalyuk also adopted a seemingly more conciliatory tone as he described the agenda for today’s talks with Riyad al-Qaysi, Iraqi Foreign Ministry undersecretary. According to Posuvalyuk, the talks will not have an "anti-American" character, and Moscow "intends to inform all interested parties, including the U.S., of the results of the talks." He also underscored that Moscow will continue to urge "restraint" on Baghdad. (Interfax, UPI, September 16)
In a related development, a Russian diplomatic source yesterday said that the foreign ministry is checking into media reports that a counselor at the Russian embassy in Baghdad had declared it to be Iraq’s right to fire on planes in its airspace, including in the "no-fly zones." The source said that, if true, the counselor’s remarks do not reflect Russia’s official position on the issue. (Itar-Tass, September 16)
Russian Air Force Commander Anticipates Reductions.