Our Enemy, Our Ally: Russia, Supposedly Our Ally in the War on Terrorism, Continues to Arm and Support Terrorist States, Including Iraq. (Cover Story: Iraq War)
Grigg, William Norman, The New American
After his first meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Bush said he "looked into his soul" and decided that Putin was a good man. After 9-11, the Bush administration embraced Putin's regime as a key "strategic partner" in the war on terrorism--despite Russia's continued military, technical, and economic support for "axis of evil" nations Iraq, Iran, and North Korea. After U.S. troops began military operations against Iraq on March 19th, our nation would be reminded that whatever Mr. Bush thought he saw when he peered into Putin's "soul' his Russian regime is hardly a U.S. "partner."
On Saturday, March 22nd, the Bush administration delivered a de-marche--a stern, formal diplomatic protest--to Russia's ambassador, Yuri Ushakov, regarding the presence of Russian military hardware and advisers in Baghdad. According to the AP, Russia "is putting American troops at risk by selling antitank guided missiles, jamming devices and night-vision goggles to Iraq."
In a March 24th TV interview, Colin Powell described the gear as "the kind of equipment that will put our men and women in harm's way.... It gives an advantage to the enemy, an advantage we don't want them to have." Administration spokesman An Fleischer informed the press that aid to Iraq included equipment provided by "a Russian company that produces GPS [Global Positioning System] jamming equipment," which would block satellite signals used to direct precision-guided bombs and missiles, and to coordinate troop movements. President Bush reportedly placed a personal phone call to President Putin to protest the aid to Iraq, only to be greeted with accusations that the U.S.-led attack was creating a "humanitarian catastrophe."
Given his government's bloody behavior in Chechnya, Putin was cast against type in his role as "humanitarian." Additionally, use of GPS jammers in Baghdad actually enhance the possibility of innocent casualties. "About eighty percent of the munitions used in the strike on Baghdad were precision-guided weapons that rely on GPS signals to hit their targets," observed Kyle Parker, Russia Program Director for the American Foreign Policy Council, in an interview with THE NEW AMERICAN. "The jamming doesn't stop the bomb from falling, it redirects it to a different target. So it could fall in the desert, or just as easily fall on a residential building."
According to Parker, the U.S. military believes that as many as 2,400 GPS jamming units were transferred to Iraq from Russia. During the first week of combat, only a handful of them--perhaps half a dozen--were destroyed in U.S. air strikes. This isn't the first time Iraq has used Russian jamming gear against U.S. pilots: Kuwait's AI-Qabas newspaper reported in 2000 that Iraqi forces had used two Russian-provided jamming devices to force U.S. fighter pilots to abort a patrol of a "no-fly" zone. In addition to the night-vision goggles and jamming equipment, a Russian arms firm reportedly provided Iraqis with Kornet antitank guided missiles (which Russia also sold to Syria in 1999). The March 31st Economic Timer of India reported that Iraq may have up to 1,000 of the lethal and lightweight antitank missiles.
The Bush administration's most arresting accusation was that Russians were on the ground in Baghdad assisting the Iraqis. "They [Russians] are there in Baghdad... trying to make the system work, the jamming system," an administration official told reporters on March 23rd. …