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Russia - abstention or veto?

Dear all

My reading of the situation is that Russia is avoiding committing itself 
to a veto, has been trying to intimidate US/UK into withdrawing their 
drafts to avoid having to veto, and is probably uncomfortable with the 
idea of vetoing.

As paraphrased in this Reuters story, the Russians are saying they 
'cannot support' the resolution. This could mean an abstention rather 
than a vote against/veto.

The US/UK seem determined to go to a vote - will Moscow content 
itself with a 'good' resolution, strong statements and an abstention?

On the US side, there have been reports of a certain half-
heartedness, and for the Cheney/Rumsfeld axis, primarily interested 
in the military options, seeing Colin Powell lose out big on one of his 
flagship projects would be beneficial to their strengthening hold on 
foreign policy. 

They might see the demise of this softly softly negotiated path as a 
good thing for their NMD-tough guy approach to things.

Not knowing what's going to happen 3 July adds a certain flavour to 
preparations for this weekend's conference in London.



Reuters (Yahoo) story Wednesday June 27 10:39 AM ET

       Russia Says Its Proposal Can Solve Iraq Arms Dispute

                      Russia Says Its Proposal Can Solve Iraq Arms Dispute

                      MOSCOW (Reuters) - A top Russian diplomat said on
                          Wednesday that Moscow's resolution calling for the
                          gradual lifting of U.N. sanctions on Iraq was the only
                          way to produce a long-term solution to the West's
                          dispute with Baghdad.

                          Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ordzhonikidze was
                          speaking to Interfax news agency hours after Russia
                          rejected a U.S.-British proposal to revamp the
                          sanctions, in force since Iraq's 1990 invasion of

                     The statement also coincided with a meeting between
                    Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and a European Union (new
                          - web sites) envoy on the Middle East. A Russian
                 emissary later announced he would undertake a new tour
                          of Middle East nations.

                      Ordzhonikidze told Interfax there was no alternative t
                          the Russian resolution, submitted during Tuesday's
                          Security Council debate, ``if we are interested in
                     securing a long-term settlement to the Iraqi problem.'

                    He said Russia could not support the Anglo-American
                    proposal, which called for an overhaul of the terms of
                   the humanitarian oil-for-food plan under which Iraq is
                          allowed to export oil and buy supplies under U.N.

                          ``We cannot agree with such a draft resolution,'' he
                          said. ''In essence, it freezes the current state of
                          affairs, maintaining sanctions with unacceptable
                          consequences for Iraq's people and economy in the
                          absence of any progress on disarmament.''

                          Ordzhonikidze said Russia was concerned that the
                          ``smart sanctions'' outlined in the U.S.-British
                     proposal could hurt the economies of many countries,
                     including Russia. Moscow, he said, intended to press o
                          with the draft at the United Nations (news - web
                          sites), where a July 3 deadline has been set for the
                          U.S.-British proposal.

                    The Anglo-American draft would ease U.N. controls on
                   civilian goods entering Iraq and tighten enforcement o
                          military supplies. It would also try to stem Iraq's
                          smuggling routes.

                          Tuesday's debate has left the Security Council at an
                  impasse. Diplomats expected an extension of the curren
                          sanctions regime on July 3, but are uncertain for how
                          long and whether any changes would be introduced.

                   Russian ambassador Sergei Lavrov told the Security
                   Council that the Anglo-American resolution ``cannot go

                 ``The deeper we go into detail, the greater the doubts
                          we have that this draft is terms of a
                          long-term Iraqi settlement,'' Lavrov said.

                          A Foreign Ministry statement said Russia and the
                    European Union believed tension had eased in the Middl
                          East. They called for ``further efforts for its
                          normalization,'' based on the plan drafted by former
                          U.S. Senator George Mitchell.

                          Russian envoy Andrei Vdovin told Interfax he would
                          leave on Thursday for a trip including stops in Israel
                          the Palestinian Authority (news - web sites), Egypt an
                          Jordan. He would remain in the region ``as long as

                    Vdovin undertook a Middle East trip earlier this month
                    and Ivanov has also toured the region in recent months.


Milan Rai
Joint Coordinator, Voices in the Wilderness UK
29 Gensing Road, St Leonards on Sea East Sussex UK TN38 0HE
Phone/fax 0845 458 9571 local rate within UK
Phone/fax 44 1424 428 792 from outside UK
Pager 07623 746 462
Voices website

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