Russia's foreign minister on Monday accused the United States of having "hidden political motives" for a report that said Moscow turned over information on U.S. military plans to Saddam Hussein during the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
The Pentagon report released Friday said that two captured Iraqi documents indicate that Russia obtained information from sources "inside the American Central Command" in Qatar. Russia passed battlefield intelligence to Saddam through the former Russian ambassador in Baghdad, Vladimir Titorenko, according to the Pentagon report.
Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service dismissed the allegations over the weekend as did Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Monday.
"How this was done allows one to speculate that this has hidden political motives and that this is being done in connection with Iraq, but I can hardly be sure of it," he said.
"It is unclear to us why the international community has to learn about such facts regarding Russian intelligence cooperation in Iraq from the media," he said.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the U.S. administration will ask Russia about the report.
"Any implication that there were those from a foreign government who may have been passing information to the Iraqis prior to the invasion would be, of course, very worrying," Rice said Sunday on the CNN program "Late Edition."
"I would think the Russians would want to take that very seriously as well," she said.
In Washington, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Rice plans to discuss the Iraq matter directly with Lavrov, by telephone this week or in person Thursday, when they meet in Berlin for a gathering of the foreign ministers of the permanent U.N. Security Council members.
In the meantime, Assistant U.S. Secretary of State Daniel Fried conveyed the U.S. request for a Russian government look at the matter through Moscow's ambassador in Washington, McCormack said, reports AP.
Russian President Vladimir Putin would never fall to the level of personal insults, Kremlin official spokesman Dmitry Peskov said