First Published: 2007-10-18

 
Putin lashes out at US policy in Iraq
 

Russian president says US should set date for Iraq pull-out, oil one of aims of Iraq invasion.

 

Middle East Online

Putin warns: ‘Russia is not Iraq’

MOSCOW - Russian President Vladimir Putin lashed out at US policies in Iraq and Iran in a national phone-in broadcast on Thursday, and announced new nuclear weapons for Russia's increasingly powerful armed forces.

Speaking live on national television and radio with Russians from across the vast country, Putin called the US intervention in Iraq a "dead end" and suggested that the US-led invasion was aimed at controlling Iraqi oil fields.

Putin said the United States should set a date for its final pull-out from Iraq to force the war-torn country's leadership to build up its own security forces.

"The Americans say you should not name a date for withdrawal," Putin said.

"I think this should be done because unless it is done the Iraqi leadership feels under a US umbrella and won't rush to build up its own security forces."

"To have an occupation regime there eternally is unacceptable," Putin said.

The Russian president also said that one of the reasons for the US invasion of Iraq was to control the country's vast oil reserves and said "some people" wanted to do the same to Russia.

"Thank God Russia is not Iraq. Russia has the strength and the means to defend itself," Putin said earlier during the question-and-answer session in answer to a previous question about protecting Russia's energy resources.

He told one caller that any outside power dreaming of snatching Russia's own massive oil and gas wealth was indulging in "political erotica."

In a link-up with servicemen at the Plesetsk nuclear missile base, Putin announced that Russia would build another new nuclear submarine next year and was also planning a "completely new" atomic weapon, about which he did not elaborate.

"We have grandiose plans and they are absolutely realistic," Putin said, speaking hours after the military announced the successful test firing of a Topol intercontinental ballistic missile.

Putin then delivered a swipe at Washington's tough stand on Iran, saying that Russia's insistence on negotiations with the Islamic Republic over its Russian-backed nuclear power programme was better than "threats, sanctions or even force."

He called media reports of an assassination plot against him in Iran that surfaced on the eve of his visit Tuesday to Tehran an attempt to "wreck" his visit.

This was Putin's sixth such phone-in during eight years in power.

Putin, 55, has left the world guessing about what he will do after the March election, in which he is barred by the constitution from seeking a third consecutive presidential term.

The former KGB officer who came to power in 2000 repeated Thursday that he will step down, saying "there will be another person here in the Kremlin in 2008."

Putin said the economy was booming, but conceded that the government was so far unable to control inflation of 8.5 percent and rising beyond "the planned parameters."

However, he trumpeted economic growth of 7.7 percent, saying "the results of this year were positive, even better than we expected."

There has been a more than doubling of foreign investment, 13.4 percent increase in incomes, and 5.1 percent increase in pensions, he said, while gold and foreign currency reserves are at record levels.

Putin also claimed credit for a slowdown in the country's catastrophic mortality rate, saying that government benefits to families were having an effect.

No major politician has yet expressed interest in seeking the presidency, while polls indicate the parliamentary election will give Putin's United Russia party an overwhelming majority.

Speculation is mounting that Putin will seek to remain in control even after quitting the presidency, possibly in a newly empowered prime minister's post. Or he may return to the Kremlin for a third term after a break -- something the constitution does not bar.

Later Thursday Putin was due to meet Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in Moscow for talks expected to focus on Iran's Russian-backed nuclear programme. Putin was in Tehran on Tuesday, the first visit to Iran by a Kremlin leader since World War II.

 

Iran airs "confessions" of researcher facing death for spying

Mayor of Libya's Misrata assassinated

Macron sees war on IS in Syria will be won in February

Assad blasts US-backed Kurdish fighters

Christmas in Jordan dimmed by Jerusalem crisis

Protesters torch political party offices in Iraqi Kurdistan

Turkey prosecutor seeks release of German reporter

Kuwait likely to face political uncertainty

Lebanon arrests suspected killer of British embassy worker

Israel targets Hamas site in Gaza

Turkey slams Austria ‘discrimination’

Iran's schools suffocate in smog

Tunisia elections delayed

Istanbul summit strong on the rhetoric, weak on concrete steps

Israeli air traffic halted due to strikes

Two Danes stabbed by man shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ in Gabon

Morocco’s Islamists elect new leader, walking away from predecessor’s populism

UN considers rejecting Trump Jerusalem decision

Palestinians call for protests against Pence Jerusalem visit

Palestinian billionaire detained in Saudi Arabia

Egypt opens Rafah crossing for four days

Turkey court releases 7 suspects in New Year attack trial

Palestinian activist killed in Gaza protests

Foreign fighters a worry as IS struggles to survive

Over half Syrian refugees in Lebanon live in 'extreme poverty'

Palestinians killed in continuing protests over Jerusalem occupation

Bourita: Extraordinary meeting between ECOWAS, Morocco to be held beginning of 2018

Saudi-led air strikes, clashes as Yemen forces battle rebels

Sahel force funding shows terrorism fight is Saudi 'priority'

UN 'appalled' at mass execution of jihadists in Iraq

Iraq's Sistani says Hashed should be under government control

Middle-class Egypt adapts as costs soar

Somalia's budget meets IMF terms

Israel PM questioned in graft probe

US says Iran supplied ballistic missile to Yemen rebels

Lebanon approves bid for oil, gas exploration

US to present 'irrefutable evidence' of Iran violations

Istanbul 'to remove Gulen links' from street names

Iraq hangs 38 jihadists

Pence to visit Middle East despite controversy

Hamas chief calls for continued Jerusalem protests

EU to repatriate 15,000 migrants from Libya in two months

Syria Kurds fear US ally will desert them after IS defeat

Israeli drugmaker Teva to cut 14,000 jobs over two years

Turkey rescues 51 migrants stranded on rocks