Russia’s Ace From the Sleeve - 25 February, 2003

The date for beginning of war in Iraq has been announced. There are different variants, but all sources say that it will happen in March. This process of opposition seems to be irreversible, however Russia may still present its trump card that it has been preserving for a suitable opportunity. Everybody has already forgotten that Russia has this trump card.

Russia President Vladimir Putin sent Yeugeny Primakov to Iraq. Together with high fashion and high cuisine, there is also high diplomacy, and Yeugeny Primakov is a representative of this high cuisine in Russia.

The epoch of Primakov is not over yet, but when it comes down in history, the man will be ranked on par with such people as Machiavelli, Disraeli, Roosevelt and other figures who made the world’s destinies in different centuries.
 Primakov’s contribution into development of the situation in Belgrade was considerable. Belgrade was bombed, but the situation developed quite differently. It was the Russian courage that Primakov demonstrated to the world when the Russian army unexpectedly appeared in Belgrade.

But it was painful to see how Yeugeny Primakov was ousted. He quitted the post with dignity, as if he said he would never be back even if he invited again. It was no doubt that Yeugeny Primakov would be invited to do his diplomatic work once again, because there is no adequate alternative to him in the whole of Russia’s foreign politics and it will unlikely appear in the nearest future.

In this particular situation concerning Iraq Yeugeny Primakov was up to the mark. When Vladimir Putin asked him to go to Iraq, he agreed. He did it because human lives are always above personal ambitions for a Politician and a Diplomat. This fact determines his greatness and charisma.

Yeugeny Primakov never revealed his relations and showed his cards; we can only guess what was the scale of work done in Iraq on Saturday and what mechanism was set going.

The first results of Primakov’s visit to Iraq are evident: the USA has been deprived of the opportunity to strike an attitude to the UN and to strive for changing of the resolution. Yeugeny Primakov was promised that the UN would have no claims. Saddam Husseim assured the Russian diplomat that there would be no obstacles in the way of international inspectors working in Iraq.

Such considerable results were achieved within several hours in the atmosphere of secrecy that is to persuade the world that there was something more in addition to Saddam’s declaration.

Over the whole period of his political career (being an academician, intelligence service chief and Foreign Minister of the Soviet Union), Primakov has been sticking the same principles originating from the concept of “political realism.” The essence of the principles was that any state is a selfish creature, and depending upon the situation, it employs different ideological screens for realization of its own national interests. If realization of these interests requires more political and economic strength, unions must be created in order to use joint efforts to exert pressure upon those with whom the country cannot cope alone. The ideas of “political realism” are abundant in the open reports of the Soviet intelligence in 1993-1995 (Yeugeny Primakov was the chief of the intelligence service at that period).

Finally, the epoch of political altruism in over; Russia scored just few victories over this period in order to follow the same line. Strict and tenacious Primakov has come just at the right time when America is obviously irresolute.

Probably, when Bush realizes Russia’s serious diplomatic artillery he will once again consider whether he should delay bombing of Iraq for some more time. Indeed, over his long political career Primakov made everybody treat his actions seriously.

Yelena Kiseleva

Author`s name Michael Simpson