so much for European unitity, it's an illusion - when the shit hits the fan, it's all about self-interest
the way things are going, it's possible that one day the US may be closer to the Russia then we are to France and Germany - where would that leave this proposed USE?
- Car Key Boi
Russia Hints ‘Peace Camp’ Alliance A Failure
A summit between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his French and German counterparts has been dubbed a failure by some officials here, who warned the troika’s "peace camp" alliance would crumble with the end of the war in Iraq. "Senior government officials, speaking in the corridors of power in Moscow, have no illusions about any long-term perspectives for the axis," the well-connected Izvestia daily reported in its weekend issue. "Sooner or later Iraq will fall and Russia and the United Sates will resume normal relations," the official, who was reported to be close to Putin, told the paper. "The situation in Iraq does not mean that we intend to get into an argument with the United States," said the source before adding that Moscow never expected "any long-term principled" position concerning Iraq from either Paris or Berlin. The comments indicate that Russia’s nuanced position over the war in Iraq is becoming even more difficult to decipher.
Putin is still pushing to protect a nascent friendship with US President George W. Bush in the face of strident opposition from the Russian media and top government officials. Analysts have long argued that Putin is far keener to preserve friendly ties with the United States than with the pro-European, anti-war camps embedded in much of the Russian media and the foreign and defense ministries. Russia’s Foreign Minister Ivan Ivanov expressed outrage at suggestions from a top Pentagon official last week that Moscow should forgive the eight billion dollars in Soviet-era debt owed to it by Baghdad. Kommersant business daily joined in by declaring in a furious front-page headline: "The United States is demanding that Russia, France and Germany pay for the Iraqi war."
And the popular Gazeta.ru news website stormed: "We should have expected this!" Yet Putin has been far more reserved. He and his loyal Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin suggested Friday that Moscow might be prepared to waiver some of the Iraqi debts in return for better Russia-US relations. "On the whole the proposal is understandable and legitimate," Putin said. "Russia has no objections to such a proposal." Putin concluded two days of talks in Saint Petersburg with French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on Saturday still calling for a central United Nations role in the post-war revival of Iraq. But the Saint Petersburg summit ended without any formal declaration on Iraq.
And diplomats noted Putin appeared uncomfortable at being so closely associated with the anti-Washington stance of Schroeder and Chirac. Putin had even secretly invited British Prime Minister Tony Blair-Bush’s staunchest backer in the war on Iraq-to attend the pow-wow in Saint Petersburg’s Grand Hotel Europe. Diplomats said Blair turned the offer down. Putin’s overtures toward Washington have been complicated by the tough talk from other Russian officials. But analysts suggested Putin’s more measured approach to the issue could raise the Russian leader’s value in Washington’s eyes. The differences within the Russian administration appear striking. While Putin took a soft approach during the summit, a senior lawmaker ridiculed the United States Sunday for failing to find any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
"We do not think that America won," said Dmitry Rogozin, the head of the lower house of parliament’s foreign affairs committee, told Rossia television. "Where are those chemical weapons?" he demanded. And Putin’s media aide, Sergei Yastrzhembsky, told Kommersant that Russia would not forgive the Iraqi debt. "(Washington) should not be so generous at other people’s expense," he said.