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News :: International
Putin Slams US "Dictatorial" Foreign Policy, Harboring of Terrorists
05 Dec 2004
Russia's Putin Calls U.S. Policy 'Dictatorial'

Fri Dec 3,12:03 PM ET

By Douglas Busvine

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin (news - web sites) accused the United States on Friday of pursuing a dictatorial foreign policy and said mounting violence could derail progress toward bringing peace and democracy to Iraq() (news - web sites).

Putin also criticized the West for setting double-standards on terrorism, pursuing Islamic fundamentalists in Afghanistan (news - web sites) and Iraq while giving refuge to "terrorists" demanding Chechnya (news - web sites)'s independence from Russia.

The Kremlin leader's tough remarks came on a visit to former Cold War ally India, where he and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh issued a joint call for greater cooperation in stabilizing and rebuilding Iraq.

Unilateralism increased risks that weapons of mass destruction might fall into the hands of terrorists, and would stoke regional conflicts, Putin said in a hard-hitting speech to an invited audience.

"Even if dictatorship is packaged in beautiful pseudo-democratic phraseology, it will not be able to solve systemic problems," Putin said. "It may even make them worse."

Putin did not name the United States, but clearly had the administration of President Bush() (news - web sites) in mind when he said policies "based on the barrack-room principles of a unipolar world appear to be extremely dangerous."

Russia was a vocal opponent of the U.S.-led war to oust Saddam Hussein (news - web sites), but has since joined efforts to rebuild Iraq's war-hit infrastructure. Moscow's assent was key to a recent Paris Club deal to write off most of Iraq's foreign debts.


Putin said he was worried by mounting violence and loss of life linked to operations by U.S.-led coalition forces in Iraq, and said these may disrupt plans to hold elections now scheduled for Jan. 30, 2005.

Again the Russian leader was not specific, but he appeared to be referring to the U.S. operation to crush die-hard insurgents in the Iraqi city of Falluja.

"This may put a question mark over holding of fair and democratic elections in Iraq early next year," he said.

Putin's speech echoed comments he made earlier to an Indian newspaper in which he said the war had turned Iraq into a breeding ground for terrorists.

"As had been the case with Afghanistan, Iraq turned into a major hotbed of a terrorist threat, a firing ground and incubator for militants," he told the Hindu newspaper.

He rounded on Britain for giving asylum to Akhmed Zakayev and the United States for giving refuge to Ilyas Akhmadov, spokesmen for Chechen separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov.

"Providing safe haven and support to terrorists, their accomplices and sponsors actually serves as a justification and, indeed, an encouragement of their crimes," Putin said.

Both men deny being terrorists. Maskhadov, regarded in the West as a moderate, led Chechnya to brief de facto independence during the 1990s before Putin ordered Russian troops to retake the turbulent North Caucasus province.

Putin, who backed India's bid for a United Nations (news - web sites) Security Council seat, said he had found in India a strong ally against terrorism.

"Terrorists benefit from the conflict of civilizations and religions," he told the hand-picked New Delhi audience. "Let it be known that our multi-confessional and multi-ethnic states will not be broken up."

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