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Russia To Send Troops To Iraq?
July 17, 2004 12:02 PM   Subscribe

Russia To Send Troops To Iraq? If this takes place, will it impact the forthcoming election in the United States? "Sources close to Russia's Security Council say that Russian President Vladimir Putin has agreed to the request "in principle" and has directed the Russian General Staff to work up a plan by the end of the month. "
posted by Postroad (32 comments total)

 
According to the article: If a troop agreement is reached, the Bush administration would enjoy not only a timely spike in the polls during the campaign season...

My question is: why would Bush surge in the polls if the Russians agree to go to Iraq? How would that vindicate all the lies that Bush & Co. have told to fight a war in Iraq?

I can see Putin's numbers go up, because Russians may view this as "we're playing in the major leagues now, because of Putin" but I really don't see how this helps Bush.

If anything, I see this as Putin bailing Bush out of a tough spot...
posted by Rastafari at 12:20 PM on July 17, 2004


How does it bail Bush out if it doesn't help him in the polls?
posted by graventy at 12:32 PM on July 17, 2004


i wonder what the US is paying...
posted by muppetboy at 12:34 PM on July 17, 2004



I vann to suuuck your bloooood!
posted by psmealey at 12:54 PM on July 17, 2004


muppetboy : i wonder what the US is paying...

Perhaps the blind eyes turned towards the Chechnya and jailing political prisoners shenanigans.
posted by fullerine at 1:03 PM on July 17, 2004


It helps Bush because it brings a significant amount of "internationalization" to the Iraq force, theoretically freeing some U.S. soldiers of the responsibility.

The question, then, is do reservists get to go home - or are we going to keep all hands on deck for the upcoming invasion of Iran?
posted by kgasmart at 1:09 PM on July 17, 2004


When the U.S. moved in, Saddam owed the Russians US$8 billion, and had something like US$40 in outstanding contracts. Last December, Russia agreed to write off 2/3 of the outstanding debt.

I think Russia's interests here are purely financial. They want to get back in the Iraq oil game, to make up some of their losses, and maybe capitalize on some of their previous contacts and knowledge to make some money in the future.
If Russia gets some kind of assurance from the U.S. that they won't be criticized about Chechnya, that'd just be the icing on the cake.
posted by gimonca at 1:27 PM on July 17, 2004


Moscow and Washington are quietly negotiating a request by the Bush administration to send Russian troops to Iraq or Afghanistan this fall[...]

Oh, good, because everything will be jake once the Russians are back in Afghanistan. And because of what a long history of enlightened and benevolent occupations the Red Army has piled up.

This can't possibly be true.
posted by coelecanth at 1:27 PM on July 17, 2004


Kgasmart is right. Russian troops add a concrete dimension to the increasingly abstract coalition of the willing.

I think, however, that there will be some pretty difficult obstacles to overcome before Putin sends troops. Russians remember the Afghan war with great bitterness. The Soviet Union tried to impose order and develop a troubled country, pouring in economic and military aid, convinced that they would eventually be seen as liberators once the country had stabilized.

Afghanistan sunk deeper into crisis as its infrastructure rapidly eroded, forcing the country backward in time. The cost to the Soviet Union in lives, resources and domestic prestige was enormous, and the ten year conflict caused considerable unrest in the Soviet Union.

Sound familiar? Brezhnev was also an inarticulate and detached leader, who depended upon his aids to drive his car, set policy, and even read to children.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 1:35 PM on July 17, 2004


Afghanistan sunk deeper into crisis as its infrastructure rapidly eroded, forcing the country backward in time. The cost to the Soviet Union in lives, resources and domestic prestige was enormous, and the ten year conflict caused considerable unrest in the Soviet Union.

...but of course the average Russian/Russian soldier won't have a whole lot of say in the matter.

On the surface, this is a good thing - if it is utilized to ease the pressure on US forces; and if a more broadly internationalized force is seen by Iraqis as being more representative of the global community at large, it may perhaps take some wind from the insurgents' sails.
posted by kgasmart at 2:00 PM on July 17, 2004



posted by mr_crash_davis at 2:26 PM on July 17, 2004


I really don't trust Russia getting more involved in all this. Putin has a reputation for being pretty ruthless, for example it's widely believed that the Russian secret service staged the Russian apartment bombings as an excuse to go back into Chechnya.
posted by bobo123 at 2:33 PM on July 17, 2004


One hand washes another, birds of a feather flock together and it's a plus for Osama, too, in more than one way. A win-win-win outcome, if true.

Perhaps the blind eyes turned towards the Chechnya and jailing political prisoners shenanigans.

a quote from an LA Times link, now broken, in a post from a Political Animal past:

Some Russian political analysts said Friday that, although Putin may have given the U.S. information about Iraqi terrorist plots, he was probably disclosing it now to boost Bush's chances for reelection.
"It's apparent that Russians and President Putin are interested in a second term for Bush," said Liliya Shevtsova of the Carnegie Moscow Center. "We've always had good relations with Republicans. We dislike Democrats, because Democrats always care about democracy in Russia."

Some analysts say the controversy over Bush's policies in the Middle East is distracting Europe from Putin's increasing authoritarianism and human rights abuses in Chechnya.

"Once [presumed Democratic presidential nominee John] Kerry comes to power, the U.S. and Europe will most likely engage in a new honeymoon … and it means they may jointly turn their attention back to Russia," Belkovsky said. "Thus the Kremlin is interested in seeing the Republicans cling to power, despite all the differences on many issues between Putin and Bush."


Birds of a feather, indeed.
posted by y2karl at 3:10 PM on July 17, 2004


Video from the horror that is Chechnya.

I think this is one of those situations where the term "linkage" gets so bizarre nobody on the outside can really judge what the motivators are. Some possibles that come to mind:

1) Russia wants sponsorship into the WTO. They also want Russian oil companies in Iraq. Iraq is centrally located for a lot of their interests too, including watching the US military in Iraq, watching Iran and Israel. Iraq is also possibly going to be the regional economic powerhouse with billions of dollars of potential trade.

2) Russia would also really like to find out how the US can go into Iraq with relatively few casualties; whereas they are hemorrhaging horribly (around 15 deaths per day for five years) in Chechnya. There are a ton of things they can learn through observation and cooperation, worth literally billions of dollars of R&D to them.

3) The US may provide some sort of quid pro quo in Chechnya or other restive Russian sphere provinces, to include intelligence assistance against other restive Islamist movements all over West and Central Asia. The US would also like Russia in Iraq against possible Iranian trouble.

4) What exactly would the Russians be doing? First of all, building another huge embassy in Baghdad, then securing lots of contracts for Russian owned corporate enterprises. Otherwise, their duties wouldn't even rise to the level of even long-term policing. In other words, just for them to be there is enough. I would strongly suggest that any kidnapper who snatches a Russian would be very foolish indeed, in that they don't have much of a sense of humor about these things.

5) I have to agree that I wouldn't see much of a bounce to Bush from this, other than looking a tad more multilateral, and maybe giving the French and Germans one more in the eye. HOWEVER, it is reasonable to assume that there are a dozen or more major factors involved in this that are just not that obvious.
posted by kablam at 4:14 PM on July 17, 2004


Ah! I see they're calling in the experts...
posted by talos at 4:36 PM on July 17, 2004


How does it bail Bush out if it doesn't help him in the polls?

Bailing Bush out in this matter is NOT just limited to Bush's rise in the polls. The fact that several countries have pulled out of Iraq gave the appearance that many of those countries may have become disillusioned with Bush & Co. as all their justification for invasion were shown to be based on lies and deceit.

The fact that Russia may be joining in the game (even at this late stage) may be looked at as vindication by Bush for the Iraq war, when in reality it may be political opportunism by Putin.

Any rise in polls by Bush would simply be a positive after effect.
posted by Rastafari at 5:01 PM on July 17, 2004


Poor chechens.
Seriously.
posted by signal at 6:42 PM on July 17, 2004


The chief troublemakers in Chechnya are hyperfundamentalist reactionaries of the first water, have a consistent policy of terrorism toward civilians in Russia, and would love nothing better than to be able to expand their terror campaign to include the U.S. The rebellion in Chechnya needs to be stamped out, and I'd strongly advise anyone from falling into the trap of romanticizing the participants as underdogs.
posted by gimonca at 7:26 PM on July 17, 2004


and I'd strongly advise anyone from falling into the trap of romanticizing the participants as underdogs.

Or what , you'll blow me up ?
posted by sgt.serenity at 7:35 PM on July 17, 2004


gimonca - a simple thought experiment :

Imagine the American people had endured what the Chechnyans had endured.

Do you even what the recent Chechnyan past encompasses ?

Who's your daddy ?
posted by troutfishing at 8:34 PM on July 17, 2004


Or do you even know your momma ?
posted by troutfishing at 8:35 PM on July 17, 2004


The rebellion in Chechnya needs to be stamped out, and I'd strongly advise anyone from falling into the trap of romanticizing the participants as underdogs.

I have a difficult time envisioning an end point to this, a time when Chechen terrorists no longer pose a threat. At one time, the Russians may have had a hope of winning over Chechens and keeping them in the Federation through incentives. After all, there were significant advantages to being part of a larger community.

I agree that the Chechen rebels are a terrible, unsavoury group, but the unmeasured, heavy handed response has made peace damn near impossible. The bombing of Grozny was relentless. Chechnya is in ruins. The focus of Chechen nationalism is bloody revenge, not nation building. I don't see a happy outcome here for quite a long time.

The closer you look at Putin the more alarming he is. He's charming meat puppet, but a remarkably impoverished political thinker, with the soul of an autocrat-- a KGB hack hand-selected by bombastic, drunken crook.

Can you say that the Russians are the underdogs? The Chechen attacks on apartment buildings, metro-stations, theatres and hospitals were savage and indefencible. But how many theatres, hospitals, apartment buildings were destroyed by Russian troops? Conservatively, a hundred-fold more.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 9:11 PM on July 17, 2004


How does it bail Bush out if it doesn't help him in the polls?

I think it all depends how bad you think things are. If bush has more or less "done the right thing" but along the way has distressed some americans who have lost sons or too many tax dollars for their taste, then being bailed out means getting better poll numbers. If bush has disasterously affected international relations, provided breeding grounds for terrorists, created an even more volatile middle eastern situation, and generally destroyed america's standing in the world, then being bailed out just means reducing the damage caused. Not suggesting you have to choose one extreme, but I don't think it's hard to see how help from Russia might not look like a strength.
posted by mdn at 10:58 PM on July 17, 2004


Commie pinko Reds can't be fucking trusted. Bush makes yet another crippling geopolitical mistake in a cheap political ploy.
posted by kjh at 11:13 PM on July 17, 2004


This is strictly a rumor, and sounds... well... incredible. As in lacking all credibility.

Russian public opinion against having troops in Iraq would be overwhelming. There'd be huge protests as a result. They already pulled out all their workers, infact, because they kept getting killed/held hostage.

Besides, I wouldn't see this as a positive development. Send Russian troops into Afghanistan, and I can promise you there will be fireworks. (The Afghanis have a long memory...) Send them into Iraq and you're risking the same kind of bullsh*t that we faced in Bosnia, where the Russians actually interfered with and threatened UN peacekeepers.
posted by insomnia_lj at 12:38 AM on July 18, 2004


Putin has a reputation for being pretty ruthless, for example it's widely believed that the Russian secret service staged the Russian apartment bombings as an excuse to go back into Chechnya.

No argument about Putin's ruthlessness, but, uh... widely believed by *whom*? I'm seeing articles that say about 9% of Russians "think it plausible."

Russian public opinion against having troops in Iraq would be overwhelming. There'd be huge protests as a result.

What makes you so sure?
posted by Krrrlson at 12:58 AM on July 18, 2004


What makes you so sure?

Not only are Russians overwhelmingly opposed to going into Iraq with their own people, (which explains why the public was supportive of pulling out their workers) this poll indicates that 51% believe that the coalition should leave Iraq too.

That's pretty sure to me.
posted by insomnia_lj at 1:49 AM on July 18, 2004




Thank you for those links ashlar - while I'd heard a few things about nations making the switch to the euro, I'd not read of it in detail. This seems to be one of the driving issues behind the war, and our increasingly difficult relationship with our European allies.
posted by aladfar at 8:05 AM on July 18, 2004


No argument about Putin's ruthlessness, but, uh... widely believed by *whom*? I'm seeing articles that say about 9% of Russians "think it plausible."


I shouldn't have said "widely believed", but rather that the belief the FSB [the successor to the KGB] was involved in the apartment bombings is quite plausible and I've seen it brought up a lot in stories on Chechnya, Eric Margolis, Guardian.

Basically, what supports FSB involvement is that police actually caught some guys planting a bomb with a timing device in an apartment building, and they turned out to be FSB agents. The FSB said that the agents were conducting a test and that what police tested and determined to be explosive was actually sugar. Furthermore police said the explosive tested was Hexogen, which is only produced by a couple FSB guarded factories in Russia, and was used in the other apartment bombings. Combine this with that the bombings served Putin in that it gave him an excuse to bring Russia back into Chechnya.
posted by bobo123 at 8:39 AM on July 18, 2004


The late General Lebed had at the time levelled the accusation of FSB's complicity and so did Maskhatov, the moderate Chechen leader. There is a whole website dedicated to the 9/99 apartment bombings: Terror 99, which has all the relevant information and raises the significant issues. It's probably a companion site to a book and a documentary about the unanswered questions around the atrocities of September 99... Definitely worth a browse for those interested...

This isn't just a crazy conspiracy theory.
posted by talos at 10:09 AM on July 18, 2004


This isn't just a crazy conspiracy theory.

I know firsthand that, as far as Russia is concerned, no theory is crazy. It is, however, equally likely that the bombings were in fact the work of terrorists. The fact that terrorists managed to take over a crowded theater in the middle of Moscow illustrates just how crappy Russian security measures are.

I have no idea, honestly, I wouldn't be surprised by either possibility. Not that we'll ever find out the truth, of course.
posted by Krrrlson at 1:49 PM on July 18, 2004


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