As the U.S. continued to beef up its military forces in the Persian Gulf yesterday, Russia’s foreign minister Yevgeny Primakov warned in Moscow that a unilateral decision by any government to use force — without UN sanction–is "absolutely unacceptable." At the same time, a Foreign Ministry spokesman called upon Baghdad to desist from taking any actions that could be used as a pretext for additional strikes by the U.S. "At this crucial point we are working with the Iraqi leadership," he said. The spokesman added that Moscow also remained in contact with all sides and was working to head off any escalation of tensions in the region. The latest U.S. military build-up follows several missile attacks launched by Iraqi forces on U.S. jets. (Interfax, AP, September 12) Although Russia has spearheaded international criticism of the U.S. for its recent military actions in Iraq, Primakov declared yesterday that Moscow would do "everything possible" to ensure that relations remain "equal and fruitful" between the U.S. and Russia. "We understand the role and the place of the U.S. in the world," Primakov said, "but that does not mean we should play a secondary role and repeat whatever Washington does." (Interfax, September 12)
Russian General Puts Troop Withdrawal on Hold.