Putin Finds Iraqi War "A Political Blunder"

Russian President Vladimir Putin called the war on Iraq "a political blunder" adding that Russia "was seeking to stop military action as soon as possible." On Thursday speaking at a Kremlin meeting the Russian Head of State said that "Russia intends to follow the line of diplomacy on the Iraqi issue and sought to resolve the problem within the UN Security Council." "War can be justified neither by allegedly accusing Iraq of harboring international terrorism /we do not have and have never had such information/ nor by attempting to change the Iraqi regime, which violates international law and can be decided upon only by the residents of that or another state," Putin said.

"Finally, military strikes on Iraq cannot be regarded as a means of answering the major question of the international community, that is whether or not Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction. And if it does, than what and when must be done to disarm Iraq," the President said.

According to him, Iraq "posed no threat." There have already been reports of casualties and destruction, the Russian President said.

Among those attending the meeting were Head of the Kremlin Administration Alexander Voloshin, Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, Minister of Defence Sergei Ivanov, Minister of Foreign Affairs Igor Ivanov, Head of the Federal Security Service Nikolai Patrushev, Foreign Intelligence Agency Director Sergei Lebedev, Chief of the General Staff Anatoly Kvashnin, Head of the Federal Frontier Service Vladimir Pronichev, Head of the General Staff's Main Intelligence Agency Valentin Korabelnikov.

The meeting focused on the situation in Iraq in view of the US intervention, the President said. One of the issues addressed at the meeting was the ensuring of security in Russia as well as assessing the possible impact of the Iraqi war on the Russian economy.