Old Saint Basil's Cathedral in MoscowJohnson's Russia List title and scenes of Saint Petersburg
Excerpts from the JRL E-Mail Community :: Founded and Edited by David Johnson

#10 - JRL 7139
April 9, 2003
Diplomats attacked because of Husseins archives

The Nezavisimaya Gazeta is offering its explanation as to why a convoy of
Russian diplomats was attacked as they were leaving Baghdad on Sunday.
According to the newspaper, Russian diplomats tried to the evacuate most
valuable classified documents of Saddam Hussein and his secret agencies,
and it is for this reason that they came under fire.

According to the Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Russias intelligence services
provided their explanations to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The
President met with the Director of the Foreign Intelligence Service, Sergei
Lebedev. It was a closed-door meeting. Meanwhile, experts focused on
several important aspects of the incident, the newspaper reports.

First, the US command was informed in advance about the route of the
Russian diplomatic convoy. Moreover, an unmanned American reconnaissance
plane was monitoring the movements of the convoy. Secondly, after Moscow
requested a corridor for the evacuation of the Russian diplomats to Syria,
this issue was considered by the Central Intelligence Agency. CIA analysts
assumed that Russian ambassador to Iraq Vladimir Titorenko might play the
role of a live shield for evacuating Iraqi intelligence archives to Moscow.
Thirdly, American troops tried to obstruct the further movement of the
convoy and insisted on examining the content of their cargo. In view of
this, Mr. Titorenko, upon his arrival in Syria, claimed that the Americans
fired on the convoy deliberately. However, the Russian Foreign Ministry did
not support these claims.

In response, Phillip Ricker, a spokesman for the US Department of State,
said that the US military command in Qatar was investigating the incident.
He stressed that, if American forces had been involved in the shooting, in
this or that way, they had had no intention of harming the personnel.

It seems that both Moscow and Washington do not tell the entire truth. In
fact, Sundays incident might mean a direct conflict of interest between
Russias Foreign Intelligence Service and the Central Intelligence Agency
of the United States, engaged in a very dangerous game. Allegedly, the
Russians were trying to evacuate secret Iraqi archives, and the Americans
were trying to prevent that. Interestingly, the first two escort cars,
carrying Iraqis, were completely destroyed. As for the jeeps of the Russian
embassy, US snipers did not target people, but their shots were aimed at
damaging the cars. It is for this reason that none of the Russian diplomats
was killed, it is said in the article.

The ambassadors driver, who received two bullets in the stomach, was the
only staff member who sustained serious injuries. Others were unscathed or
slightly hurt. The Americans seem to have calculated that the diplomats
would not carry the cargo on them, and it would be possible to seize it.
But Iraqis opened fire, and this ruined the plans of the Americans.

On Tuesday, US Ambassador to Russia Alexander Vershbow proposed a plan for
the evacuation of the wounded driver and a Russian diplomat who accompanied
him, from the Iraqi city of Fallujah, with the help of the Red Cross. He
said the US command was ready to provide a safe corridor for that purpose.
This can be seen as a goodwill gesture, but also as an indirect admission
of fault by the Americans. As for the details of the incident, we will be
able to learn them in some 50 years, after the Foreign Intelligence Service
declassifies its materials for the year 2003.
Top    Next