Russia's foreign minister dismissed on Monday -- as politically motivated -- reports his country provided intelligence to Saddam Hussein at the start of the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
Russia's foreign minister and its Foreign Intelligence Service denied allegations that a Russian diplomat turned over information to Saddam Hussein's government on American troop movements and other military war plans before and during the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq three years ago.
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said hidden political motives were behind the release of the U.S. Defense Department report last week. He did not elaborate but Russia has been criticized by several U.S. analysts and rights groups for what they see as a rollback of democracy and press freedoms by the government of Vladimir Putin.
Russia's foreign minister says U.S. authorities have not addressed the U.S. Defense Department report through official channels. In several nationally televised interviews Sunday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the United States would ask the Kremlin about the allegations in the report.
"Let's talk with the Russian government. I would not jump to the conclusion that this, if indeed the reports are true, that it had to be Moscow directed,” said the secretary. “So let's take a look and lets talk to the Russian government about it. But I would think that this is something that the Russian government would take very serious as well."
Secretary of State Rice would not comment on how the report might affect U.S.-Russian relations or if Russia's alleged actions resulted in casualties among U.S. troops.
The Pentagon report says two captured Iraqi documents indicate that Russia's ambassador to Baghdad, Vladimir Titorenko, gave Iraqi officials detailed battlefield intelligence on the U.S. war plan. The information was allegedly obtained from Russian sources inside the American Central Command in Qatar.
White House National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley would not speculate on what Russian President Putin knew about any possible Russian involvement. He said there are many unanswered questions.
"Anytime a country provides information to an enemy that would potentially put people at risk, we take that very seriously we would be raising that with the Russians,” said Mr. Hadley. “There are a lot of things we do not know. We do not know how they go it out of Centcom (Central Command). We do not know whether what the ambassador did was authorized or not. So there are further questions that we need to raise."
The U.S. Defense Department study concluded that the classified war plans obtained by Iraq from Russia did not help Saddam Hussein's military forces.