THE RUSSIANS AND THE ROGUE STATE:
The UK Telegraph posted a story about captured Iraqi intelligence documents pointing to a far more extensive prewar collaboration between Russia's SVR ( successor to the Foreign Intelligence Directorate of the KGB ) and Iraqi secret police than previously realized. Included is an offer of assassins and an awareness of Iraqi nuclear capacity. I have argued here and on H-Diplo that the would-be Regional Hegemons - Russia, China, France - are intentionally aiding the Rogue states in order to harm American interests. Here apparently is some proof:
"Moscow also provided Saddam with lists of assassins available for "hits" in the West and details of arms deals to neighbouring countries. The two countries also signed agreements to share intelligence, help each other to "obtain" visas for agents to go to other countries and to exchange information on the activities of Osama bin Laden, the al-Qa'eda leader.
The documents detailing the extent of the links between Russia and Saddam were obtained from the heavily bombed headquarters of the Iraqi intelligence service in Baghdad yesterday.
The sprawling complex, which for years struck fear into Iraqis, has been the target of looters and ordinary Iraqis searching for information about relatives who disappeared during Saddam's rule.
The documents, in Arabic, are mostly intelligence reports from anonymous agents and from the Iraqi embassy in Moscow. Tony Blair is referred to in a report dated March 5, 2002 and marked: "Subject - SECRET." In the letter, an Iraqi intelligence official explains that a Russian colleague had passed him details of a private conversation between Mr Blair and Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian prime minister, at a meeting in Rome. The two had met for an annual summit on February 15, 2002, in Rome.
The document says that Mr Blair "referred to the negative things decided by the United States over Baghdad". It adds that Mr Blair refused to engage in any military action in Iraq at that time because British forces were still in Afghanistan and that nothing could be done until after the new Kabul government had been set up.
It is not known how the Russians obtained such potentially sensitive information, but the revelation that Moscow passed it on to Baghdad is likely to have a devastating effect on relations between Britain and Russia and come as a personal blow to Mr Blair. The Prime Minister declared a "new era" in relations with President Putin when they met in Moscow in October 2001 in the aftermath of the World Trade Center attacks.
In spite of warnings by the British intelligence and security services of increasing Russian espionage in the West, Mr Blair fostered closer relations with Mr Putin, visiting his family dacha near Moscow, supporting the Russians in their war in Chechnya, and arranging for the Russian president to have tea with the Queen.
Mr Blair was surprised and dismayed when Mr Putin joined France in threatening to veto the American and British resolution on Iraq in the UN, but continued to differentiate between President Putin and President Jacques Chirac.
The Prime Minister refused to join the French, German and Russian leaders in their summit on Iraq this weekend, but still regarded Mr Putin as an ally in global politics.
The list of assassins is referred to in a paper dated November 27, 2000. In it, an agent signing himself "SAB" says that the Russians have passed him a detailed list of killers. The letter does not describe any assignments that the assassins might be given but it indicates just how much Moscow was prepared to share with Baghdad. Another document, dated March 12, 2002, appears to confirm that Saddam had developed, or was developing nuclear weapons. The Russians warned Baghdad that if it refused to comply with the United Nations then that would give the United States "a cause to destroy any nuclear weapons".