June 28, 2006
Putin Issues Hit on Diplomat Murderers in Iraq
Russian President Vladimir Putin is quite steamed at the moment over the recent murders of four Russian diplomats in Iraq, apparently committed in retaliation for Moscow’s behavior in Chechnya. In a further geographic expansion of his Chechen campaign, he has vowed to have Russian Special Forces knock off the diplomats’ killers , who had demanded that Russia withdraw from Chechnya. Some think Putin is but full of sound and fury on this one, but they may be forgetting his KGB past.
Iraqi sovereignty be damned, apparently - but then circumstantial evidence suggests that if Putin follows through, it wouldn’t be the first time that Russian nationals acted in their official capacity to violate a Middle Eastern country’s sovereignty in order to settle a Chechen separatist score.
If the US can do its own thing in Iraq, apparently Russia doesn’t want to feel left out of this round of the Great Game – and the finger-pointing at the U.S. over the diplomats’ murders is starting already - after all, if the U.S. military is supposed to be helping Iraqis maintain domestic security, then shouldn't they be able to stop a few kidnappers? Because it’s not like anyone claiming support for the Chechen separatist cause has ever targeted other Moscow-appointed government officials elsewhere. And for that matter, let's not talk about how ironic it is for Russia to be complaining about the U.S. occupying Iraq, because of course, Russia would never be so inconsiderate as to occupy another country against the will of its people.
(On second thought, oh let's!)
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Reminds me of what happened during the Lebanese war. From stratfor:
... it would not be the first time the Russians have dealt with kidnappings using covert operations. In Beirut, Lebanon, in 1985, four Soviet Embassy officials were taken hostage while riding in officially marked cars. Several days later the Soviet Embassy was threatened with a bombing if Russian personnel did not leave the region. Details of the Soviet response remain shrouded in secrecy, though the story is that Russian KGB agents staged a reprisal kidnapping, taking several family members of the suspected Lebanese abductors hostage. The Soviet hostages eventually were released. If the story is true, it suggests that, in addition to a certain degree of operational audacity, KGB agents had unusually good human intelligence available, at least for that operation.
Of course, back then the Soviets had Syria working for them, which would have been a big big boost in intel in Lebanon of the time.
Posted by: Tom Scudder at June 29, 2006 03:14 AM
What makes you think they don't still have good contacts in Syria?
Posted by: Alex at June 29, 2006 05:47 AM
Just that good contacts in Syria aren't quite as useful in Iraq '06 as they were in Lebanon '85.
Posted by: Tom Scudder at June 29, 2006 08:40 AM
why do i always think of "in soviet russia" jokes every time putin comes up?
i wonder if the kidnapper's heads will end up on pikes outside the russian embassy.
The Soviet Union held firmly to Machiavelli's dicta that it is safer to be feared than loved. Back in the good old days, nobody in the developing world much liked the Soviets but nobody messed with them, either. In one (in)famous incident, a band of West African pirates attempted to capture a Soviet "fishing boat." The next morning, the Soviet trawler sedately steamed into port towing the pirate ship, dumped about 20 bodies on the pier and steamed off again. End of pirate attacks against Soviet shipping, at least from that country.
Putin obviously misses those days.
Posted by: Anonymous at June 29, 2006 09:49 PM