Russia's olive branch to Iraq raises US hackles

PUBLIC clashes between the United States and Russia in the United Nations Security Council have produced flashbacks of Cold War rhetoric, but no real damage to the new way the old superpowers do business. In the Security Council this week, the Russian Foreign Minister, Andrei Kozyrev, employed rhetorical techniques that have not been seen for some time. In making a case for the step-by-step easing of economic sanctions on Iraq, he accused 'some colleagues' of making 'hasty, inadequate and misguided' statements of Baghdad's intentions.

In reply, never mentioning Russia by name, the US envoy, Madeleine Albright, called on the Council to 'totally reject' Moscow's approach. Saddam Hussein should not be rewarded in an 'a la carte fashion', she said.

Mr Kozyrev talked about 'emotions which overcome all of us from time to time' and which can be 'drawbacks to partnership' - by which he meant Russia's relationship with Washington. He also spoke of a 'new dangerous phenomena of double standards' in the way the Security Council imposes and lifts economic sanctions, or sends troops to meet a threat.

He accused the Council of using double standards, one for Western nations - such as in Haiti, where a huge Western military coalition was formed to remove a dictator - and another in, say, Georgia, where the Georgian leader, Eduard Shevardnadze, appealed for UN help to calm ethnic conflict and received 'several dozen observers'.

The rhetoric should be seen against the fact that the US and the Russians have been at odds on Iraq for months. But the barbs until now have been exchanged behind closed doors.

The way in which the clashes occurred overrated their significance. Mr Kozyrev came to the UN asserting he had brokered a deal with President Saddam over the recognition of Kuwait. But it turned out he had not. Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister, Tariq Aziz, refused to produce what the US, Britain and France were asking for, a formal recognition of Kuwait.

The US was forced to respond not only to Mr Kozyrev but also to Mr Aziz.

'Words are cheap, actions are the coin of the realm,' said Ms Albright, emphasising US irritation with Baghdad as well as the split with Russia.

All this took place against the backdrop of the simmering dispute between Washington and Moscow over Bosnia. Mr Kozyrev's effort to draw the Bosnian Serbs to the peace table has been in vain. Washington's efforts to lift the arms embargo against the Bosnian Muslims has also foundered. There is irritation on both sides.

Washington is in a quandary over over how to deal with these differences.

Some argue that not giving President Boris Yeltsin and Mr Kozyrev their due for diplomatic efforts harms them domestically. Others argue Russian foreign policy really doesn't matter that much, and Mr Yeltsin's success or failure will be determined within Russia. Mr Yeltsin can be allowed to play to his nationalists - as long it does not undermine stated US national interests.

Washington's and Moscow's global aims are essentially the same, but over Iraq, the US national interest in oil makes it play hard ball.

Moscow's interest in being paid billions of dollars for past aid to Baghdad makes it strain the diplomatic envelope. Mr Kozyrev ranted a bit. But no one expects him to take his shoe off soon and bang it on the table.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
tvSPOILER ALERT: Like a mash-up of 28 Days Later, Braveheart, The Killing and Lord of the Rings, this GoT episode was a belter
Life and Style
Angel Di Maria is shown the red card
tech
Sport
Roger Federer after his win over Tomas Berdych
sport
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Digital Marketing Executive

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A luxury beauty house with a nu...

Recruitment Genius: Housekeepers - Immediate Start

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This company are currently recruiting new exp...

Recruitment Genius: Head Concierge

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award winning Property Man...

Recruitment Genius: Content, SEO and PPC Executive

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Day In a Page

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral