Following his visit to the Middle East, Russia's parliamentary chairman for International Affairs, Dimitri Rogozin,granted an interview to the London Arabic-language daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat. Following are excerpts from theinterview:
Russia Will Not Accept Military Force Against Iraq
"We are helping Iraq, and we will not accept anyone seeking to use military force against it. We are strongly opposed to the sanctions, and maintain that they have outlived their usefulness and have proven nothing… As you will recall, Russia was opposed to the so-called 'smart sanctions' during the U.N. Security Council discussions on them last year. But we would like Iraq to act with greater wisdom in the current situation. Why did [Saddam Hussein] have to establish a memorial to the woman who blew herself up in Jerusalem? This tactic is wrong. There is no need to provoke America… We maintain that it is Iraq's obligation to be wiser and more moderate in its foreign policy…"
"Today, we are the only country that uses its veto in the Security Council in favor of Iraq. But this situation cannot continue in the long term without Iraq understanding what we have done for it. We aspire today to defend Iraq at every conference, and in official and unofficial talks. But [Iraq] cannot agree with Saddam Hussein's inflexible behavior. He must not arouse others' anger at him when he can refrain from doing so. For this reason, I think that the Arab world faces a tremendous task – persuading the Iraqi leadership to adopt a more balanced and reasonable line. Iraq's rivals are eagerly anticipating any pretext [to attack it], so there must be no such pretexts …"
The US Will Have To Sacrifice 100,000 Soldiers To Eliminate Saddam Hussein
"Second, we have explained to the Americans that they are still under the influence of the intoxication of the Afghanistan victory, but that this will dissipate, because in Iraq there is no 'Northern Alliance.' The Kurds cannot be utilized because the Kurds [are] struggling to establish their state in Kurdistan and will not deviate a single meter from Kurdistan's borders. They will not invade Baghdad for any reason."
"Even exploiting the [Iraqi] opposition in Iran is impossible, because this opposition is fractured and disorganized. Additionally, Iran will not participate in any action against Iraq, and will not help the Americans."
"Thus, the removal of Saddam Hussein's regime will not be accomplished with missiles and bombs. It requires a large ground operation, and it should be kept in mind that this operation will not be like Desert Storm – which was comical because they did not take Baghdad. They were not capable of taking it without bleeding a lot."
"If the Americans want to eliminate Saddam Hussein, they must be willing to sacrifice some 100,000 Americans. America is not willing to do that. For this reason, any venture against Iraq will be nothing more than idiotic muscle-flexing."