MOSCOW – President Vladimir Putin (search) said Russia won't contribute troops to an international peacekeeping force in Iraq, adding that the latest United Nations (search) resolution had fallen short of creating conditions for Moscow's involvement.
Putin, in an interview with Italian media posted on the Kremlin (search) Web site Tuesday, said that further action is needed to increase the U.N.'s political clout in Iraq and speed up the transfer of power to the Iraqis.
"In order to achieve the full unity of the international community on Iraq, it's necessary to take further steps aimed at giving the United Nations more opportunities for directly managing the political situation in that country," Putin said.
"Until that happens, many countries will see certain restrictions on their active participation in rebuilding Iraq," he said.
Russia strongly opposed the U.S.-led war in Iraq, but after it ended it moved to mend its ties with the United States and last month backed the U.S.-drafted U.N. resolution aimed at attracting more troops and money to stabilize the country.
Referring to U.S. arguments that the Iraqis still aren't ready to run their own affairs, Putin agreed that "it's necessary to act accurately to avoid creating a vacuum of power," but warned against dragging out the restoration of Iraq's sovereignty.
He ruled out any Russian military role in Iraq.
"The latest resolution is a step in the right direction, but it's not sufficient for us to even consider sending troops," Putin said. "We opposed the war, and it would be inconsistent and stupid for us to declare now that we are ready to send our troops there in the current situation."
He added that Moscow will staunchly back international efforts to stabilize Iraq, and offered to contribute Russian technology and know-how to reconstruction efforts.