March 25, 2006

Russia denies envoy gave Iraq intelligence: report

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia on Saturday dismissed a Pentagon
report that claimed Russia's ambassador in Baghdad gave
intelligence on U.S. military movements to Iraq's government in
the opening days of the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

"Time and again we hear these sorts of groundless
accusations against Russian intelligence," the Interfax news
agency quoted Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) spokesman
Boris Labusov as saying.

"We do not think it necessary to comment on these sorts of
insinuations," he told Interfax.

The 210-page report by the U.S. military's Joint Forces
Command cited an April 2, 2003, document from the Iraqi
minister of foreign affairs to President Saddam Hussein as
stating the Russian ambassador to Baghdad had funneled
strategic intelligence on U.S. plans to Saddam's government.

"The intelligence services ... do not involve official
diplomatic representatives," Interfax also quoted an unnamed
source, close to the intelligence service, as saying.

Another Iraqi document, dated March 24, 2003, referred to
Russian "sources" inside the U.S. military's Central Command
headquarters in Qatar.

The allegations about the actions of Russia were based on
captured documents from an Iraqi government on the verge of
being toppled. The report did not present any further
documentation of the allegations.

Russian President Vladimir Putin opposed the invasion of
Iraq, with which Moscow had long-standing economic ties.