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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia Backs Iraq Strikes But Hardliners Call Attack 'Reckles's

MOSCOW - The Russian government lined up behind the West on Thursday over air strikes against Iraq, but nationalists accused it of betraying an ally to U. S. -led "aggression".


A Foreign Ministry statement said that Baghdad had ignored repeated warnings to abide by United Nations decisions and that the bombing of missile sites in southern Iraq had been no surprise.


We had hoped that Iraq would respect the will of the international community and that military action could be avoided", it said. "Unfortunately, this did not happen".


The ministry expressed hope that "this time the Iraqi leadership will listen to the voice of reason and will strictly adhere to all resolutions of the U. N. Security Council".


It added, however, that the latest statements from Baghdad gave no indication of a "realistic assessment" of the situation.


Following the attacks on Iraqi targets Wednesday night by U. S. , French and British warplanes. President Saddam Hussein ordered his air force and air defenses to hit back at any new incursion by the Western allies.


President Boris Yeltsin and former President Mikhail Gorbachev have both backed the West in its fight with Saddam, dropping the Kremlin's Cold War era support for Baghdad.


But Russian hardliners - ardent nationalists and former communists - accuse the government of kowtowing to the West.


The extremist legislator Sergei Baburin was quick to seize on Wednesday's raid when the Russian parliament met Thursday for its first plenary session after the New Year holiday.


He called for the withdrawal of two Russian warships, which were sent to join a U. S. , British and French naval force in the Gulf in October, to protest the raids.


"A group of countries is imposing conditions on a sovereign state", Baburin told the chamber. "We cannot share with these countries responsibility for this reckless violation of international law".


The parliament voted 133-15 to debate the matter, which they will probably do Friday.


Baburin's proposal seemed aimed at embarrassing the government and undermining its position domestically.


Even if parliament approves the proposal, Yeltsin can veto it and the legislature would need a two-thirds majority to override.


The far-right National Salvation Front and Baburin's Russian Unity parliamentary fraction issued a joint statement denouncing the raid. In language redolent of the Cold War, they expressed "solidarity with the people of Iraq in the face of aggression by the United States, Britain and France".


They demanded the resignation of liberal Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev, accusing him, Yeltsin and Gorbachev of "treachery".


"The U. N. Security Council is displaying a one-sided approach to the question, acting in the interests of the United States and Israel", the statement said.