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Just as the U.S. began to use ground troops in its war against terror in Central Asia, Moscow declared that “the blitzkrieg against Afghanistan has failed.”
The assumed failure, according to Russia, has caused “high-ranking politicians [in the U.S.] to feel hesitant” about the “further prospects” of military operations in Afghanistan.
Moscow is also declaring that “the United Nations must act as a unifying body in the anti-terror crusade” for a global effort to succeed, and warns against “an even more threatening dimension” if the war against terror expands to include other nations.
The remarks were made over the Voice of Russia World Service, the official broadcasting service of the Russian government.
Despite the alleged failure of the American military operation, “the Pentagon generals,” Moscow asserts, now “demand that military action be extended beyond Afghanistan.” According to Moscow, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has “demanded that the chiefs of staff should draw up plans for attacks on other countries.”
Describing the U.S. as “drawing itself into a corner,” Russia declared that “Washington is now aware of the need of a political settlement” and urged negotiations.
Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov – speaking at the recently concluded Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation, or APEC, summit in Shanghai, China – reiterated the official position of the Russian government regarding the anti-terror campaign.
Any anti-terror campaign “must be based exclusively on the United Nations Charter and the relevant Security Council resolution,” Ivanov declared.
Attending the same conference, Russian President Vladimir Putin supported Ivanov’s statement. Although stating that “we have declared our direct support for the United States,” Putin also said, “The world’s governments must create legal instruments to enable a response to terrorism.”
The APEC summit concluded on Sunday.
In addition to Somalia, an oft-mentioned future target of the anti-terror campaign is one of Russia’s prime allies in the Middle East, Iraq.
Iraq has been consistently mentioned in connection with research and development of weapons of mass destruction and the terrorist group led by Osama bin Laden, as well as a possible source of the strains of anthrax currently encountered in the United States.
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has tied Iraq to anthrax in the U.S., citing reports that operatives from Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida network obtained anthrax from sources in the Czech Republic.
The Czech Interior Minister Stanislav Gross, however, dismissed the possibility of Iraqi intelligence passing anthrax on to al-Qaida terrorists, according to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri denied claims that Iraq supplied al-Qaida, describing the allegation as “bulls—,” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty stated.
Whether or not Iraq is involved in the present anthrax attacks upon the U.S., it remains committed to the development and production of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons of destruction.
Even more disturbing, Iraq’s major ally, Russia, is a potential source for the development of such weapons. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, Russian weapons scientists are known to have sought employment outside of Russia, and old Soviet materials stockpiles are known to be poorly guarded.
In January, a report from the Russian Military News Agency revealed that Russia was unable to complete its destruction of chemical weapons. In October 2000, an article entitled “The Secret of the Killer Bacteria” in the German weekly newsmagazine Der Spiegel reported the inability of verifying Russian compliance with biological weapons agreements and the possibility that biological and chemical weapons are still being produced.
In April 1997, Radio Netherlands carried a report that Russia had developed a new and particularly deadly strain of anthrax and timed the completion of the new strain to circumvent an international convention which came into effect that same April.