Russia's Putin: Interview Transcript

Oh, I think it is possible. But very difficult. And it is important yes. It is important. Because the main players in this should be brought to justice. But this will not resolve the overall terrorist problem. To be effective — globally effective — this fight should be fought not only by military force, but other means: political, economic, social. There has to be a range of efforts on the part of the international community to fight this evil.

No Russian Ground Troops

Are there any conditions under which Russia would send ground troops to Afghanistan?

To us this solution would be unacceptable. And I'll tell you why. To us, sending troops to Afghanistan is like for you, the U.S., returning your troops to Vietnam — even more difficult I should say because the Afghan war is a recent experience, much more recent than the Vietnam experience. But I should tell you something else. Even now, the Russian army is helping the United States, and not virtually, but actually. Through intelligence, through supplying intelligence, very good quality, top level intelligence. But also helping you because we know the realities of Afghanistan. And we are helping the Northern Alliance in the amount of dozens of millions of dollars. And we should also help the United States in rescue operations, including on the territory of Afghanistan.

Bombing Iraq

I'd like to talk about Iraq. There is evidence that Mohamed Atta, one of the World Trade Center bombing terrorists, met with Iraqi intelligence. If it proves that Iraq was involved in terrorist attacks, would you support the U.S. bombing of Iraq? Perhaps even participate in the attempts?

Well, as far as the Iraqi problem is concerned, this is a matter in which we have decided on that position a long time ago. And this position is to support the desire of the international community in finding out once and for all whether Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, or are trying to develop such weapons. And in that context, I believe we should renew the international inspection of facilities in the territory of Iraq. And in that context we have a proposal to make, and we are discussing it with our colleagues, including our American colleagues. I should say that we are not able to convince the Iraqi leadership that our proposals are acceptable, so therefore the processes are quite difficult. I don't believe that this issue will be resolved by bombing. Bombings are still very young. And the American and British continue bombing. But we should understand the objective of our actions. If our objective is to be convinced of the absence of the weapons of mass destruction on the territory of Iraq, we should seek that objective. Iraq should allow international inspections on their territory. In return then certain sanctions then should be lifted vis-a-vis Iraq. If we do that, I think many issues will be resolved.

Will you help? Will you try?

Yes. Definitely. Not only try, but we are conducting these consultations very actively, with our European and American partners.

Iran and Nuclear Technology

Iran. Russia shared the nuclear technology, with Iran, ostensibly for civilian use. But the CIA says that Iran could use this to build nuclear weapons. If President Bush asked you to stop supplying Iran, would you?

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