Moscow now is far from speaking "with one voice." For the most part I shall follow the line of the Russian diplomatic office, which is not, by any means, shared by all Moscow institutions. Moscow is increasingly disenchanted with the policies of the United States and the West toward Russia. In particular, the war against Iraq in 1991 was a success owing to the transfer of the main NATO forces to the Middle East with the indulgence of the former Soviet Union. But the Soviet Union (or later Russia) was not "remunerated" either materially, militarily or politically. The USSR and later Russia suffered an enormous economic loss. Russian policy toward Iraq is based on the adherence to international law, the necessity to abide by the relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions. Russia favors abolishing sanctions against Iraq and for the settlement of the Iraqi problem exclusively by political and diplomatic means. Therefore, the establishment of "no flight zones" together with the bombing of Iraq without U.N. Security Council sanctions is regarded by Russia as contradictory to international law. At the same time, under the influence of Russian diplomacy, Iraq has recognized Kuwait's sovereignty and its borders.
On December 16-20, 1998, the United States and Great Britain dealt a series of missile and bomb blows at Iraq, in the course of which hundreds of people were killed and wounded and heavy losses were inflicted not only to military targets but also to civilian ones. The Russian Foreign Office believes that the immediate cause for using the force was the biased report of the chairman of the Special Commission, Richard Butler, who, in addition to not being authorized and without coordination with the Security Council, had recalled from Iraq all personnel of the Commission on the eve of the strikes. These irresponsible acts once and for all have discredited the Special Commission, which has already undermined its prestige by a series of "spy" scandals.
The Russian president regarded the military action as a gross violation of the U.N. Charter and universally accepted principles of international law. As a result of this action, serious losses were inflicted on the many years of work on post-crisis settlement in the Gulf, including the final dismantling of Iraqi military potential. The international monitoring system of control over Iraqi prohibited programs was next to be destroyed.
Since these events, an Iraqi settlement remains in a deadlock. ln search of a political solution, Russia jointly with China and France, in April 1999, circulated a draft of the Security Council's resolution which sought to create, instead of the Special Commission, a new system of intensified monitoring over the prohibited Iraqi potential with simultaneous lifting of economic sanctions. It was envisaged to lift the ban on exports of goods from Iraq (oil embargo) and delivery there of civil production. The ban on relevant financial operations was also to be lifted. It was expected that, for some time, there would be a ban on all kinds of military cooperation and strict control over the delivery of dual-purpose goods.
At the same time, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands proposed to the Security Council a draft resolution, supported by the United States, which was viewed by Russian diplomacy as unacceptable. This draft resolution tried to reanimate under a new guise the completely discredited Special Commission, while the easing of the sanctions was put off indefinitely. Despite the differences between the draft projects, Russian diplomacy tried hard to avoid confrontation within the Security Council. On December 17, 1999, the Security Council adopted Resolution 1284, which, while similar in part to the Russian position, contains, in Moscow's opinion, ambiguous wording that allows it to be used for postponing the lifting of sanctions.
Therefore, Russia, China and France plus Malaysia (a non-permanent Security Council member) abstained from voting. The Russian representative noted the ambiguity of the resolution emphasizing that much would depend on how the decision is put into practice. Iraq declared that it did not recognize the resolution and would not abide by it.
Summing up the main present Russian positions toward Iraq, Russia favors:
- the speedy settlement of the conflict in Iraq;
- lifting of sanctions in exchange for acceptance by Iraq of the U.N. monitoring of violations of the ban of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery;
- cessation of the bombing of Iraq;
- adjustment of the "oil for food" program, discontinuance of the practice of putting a hold on non-military deliveries.
BILATERAL RUSSIAN-IRAQI RELATIONS
Iraq used to be the USSR's key Arab partner in the commercial and economic sphere. The annual commodity turnover in 1989 averaged about $2 billion. By way of reimbursement of credits, the Iraqi side every year delivered to Russia 10.5 million tons of oil amounting to a sum of$ I .4 billion. Shortly before the Kuwait crisis, big contracts were struck on developing oil deposits in the south of Iraq and on the construction of the Nasiriya-Baghdad oil pipeline, Yusifia power station and others. Large-scale cooperation developed particularly in the military-technical sphere. Iraq owes Russia a sum of about $5.3 billion in military credits alone. The "economic" Iraqi debts to Russia amount to$ I.7 billion.
In August 1993, work was launched on preparations for arranging Russian- Iraqi economic cooperation in the post-sanctions period. Agreements were signed on trade and economic, scientific and technical cooperation as well as on establishing an intergovernmental commission. The most important of them are the agreement of cooperation in the oil and gas industry (April 1995) and the contract on development of the second stage of the West Qurna oil field (March 1997), where extractive deposits of oil amount to I billion tons. Russian partners are LUKoil, Mashino import and Zarubezhneft. Russian companies take an active part in providing goods to Iraq in the framework of the U.N. humanitarian program launched in December 1996. Iraqi leaders prefer Russian companies as contractors. Their share in purchasing Iraqi oil during the six stages of the oil-for-food program has reached 40 percent of all volume of Iraqi oil exports. During I 997-99, Russian companies shipped from Iraq $3.3 billion worth of oil.
Recently Russian companies have won first place by the volume of humanitarian goods delivered to Iraq (about $500 million). Since the start of the U.N. humanitarian program, such contracts have been estimated at a sum of over $1 billion. From 1998-99, the variety of goods provided for Iraq considerably expanded at the expense of industrial equipment, spares for the oil industry, cars, etc. Russian companies have undertaken the reconstruction of a number of electric power stations, among them Nasiriya and Najibiya, at the sum of over $220 million.