Thursday, April 20, 2006

Russia to Remain Neutral in Case of U.S-Iran Armed Conflict

Russia’s military will not intervene on one side or the other, should the current Iran crisis lead to an armed conflict, the chief of the Russian general staff said, AFP reported Thursday. READ MORE

You are asking which side Russia will take. Of course Russia will not, at least I as head of the general staff will not, suggest the use of force on one side or the other. Just as with Afghanistan,” General Yury Baluevsky told reporters, referring to the 2001 U.S.-led intervention to oust the Taliban.

The general, who heads the Russian armed forces, stressed that he did not think a military scenario was likely in relation to Iran and said that diplomacy was “the proper course”.

“In my view a military solution to the Iranian problem would be a political and military mistake,” Baluevsky said.

He also confirmed that Russia planned to go ahead with fulfilling an order by Iran for a consignment of Tor-M1 mobile air defense systems, despite U.S. concerns about the deal.

“I am absolutely sure that it will be delivered, in accordance with international norms on non-proliferation,” he said.

Baluevsky is known for his hawkish position with regard to the United States. In December he accused Washington of “double standards” in its policies towards Iran and North Korea, saying it had closed its eyes to Israel’s nuclear arsenal.

Iran insists its nuclear program is purely for civilian energy generation, but the West, led by the United States, suspects the program is a cover for developing atomic weapons.