Saturday, March 01, 2003

What does Putin want?

So now Putin is threatening to veto any new U.N. resolution authorizing war against Iraq. Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov explained this might be necessary to preserve "international stability." This gives rise to several immediate questions, the most obvious being what has changed since the passage of the last U.N. resolution warning of "serious consequences" if Iraq did not comply and disarm. Russia didn't veto that one, and everybody knows what "serious consequences" means.

Something is going on behind the scenes that we don't know about yet. Maybe Putin is seeking some kind of guarantee that Russian creditors will be able to retrieve from post-Saddam Iraq the funds they've sunk into the current regime. Maybe Putin wants carte blanche as far as the U.S. is concerned in Russia's fight against the Chechens.

There must be something like that going on because the one thing that doesn't make sense is that Putin wants to veto the U.S./British resolution in the Security Council, and then watch as the U.S. and Britain go to war in Iraq without the resolution and demonstrate to the world that Russia is a country of relative inconsequence whose wishes don't influence policy in the White House or on Downing Street.


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