MOSCOW – Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service on Saturday denied that Moscow provided information on U.S. troop movements and plans to Baghdad during the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
The statement came a day after the release of an unclassified Pentagon report that cited two captured Iraqi documents that say the Russians collected information from sources "inside the American Central Command" and that battlefield intelligence was provided to then-Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein through the Russian ambassador in Baghdad.
The report also said the Russian government had sources inside the American military command as it planned and executed the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
"Similar, baseless accusations concerning Russia's intelligence have been made more than once," Foreign Intelligence Service spokesman Boris Labusov said, according to a duty officer in his department. "We don't consider it necessary to comment on such fabrications."
The unclassified report does not assess the value or accuracy of the information Saddam got or offer details on Russia's information pipeline. Maria Zakharova, spokeswoman for Russia's U.N. mission in New York, also said Friday the allegations were false.
"To my mind, from my understanding it's absolutely nonsense and it's ridiculous," she said, adding that the U.S. government had not shown Russia the evidence cited in the report. "Somebody wants to say something, and did — and there is no evidence to prove it."
Pavel Felgenhauer, a respected independent Moscow-based military analyst, said Friday that the report was within the realm of possibility.
"It's quite plausible," he told The Associated Press.
He said a unit affiliated with the Defense Ministry's Main Intelligence Department, known by its abbreviation GRU, was actively working in Iraq at the time of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. The unit apparently was shut down after the fall of Baghdad.
He said at that time a Russian Internet site called "The Ramzay Files" was causing a stir in Moscow's military and diplomatic community. The site, which was shut down after the invasion, posted striking insights, predictions and analysis into U.S. military activities as well Iraqi military and intelligence activities, he said.
He said former GRU officials told him that the type of information that was being posted — both on the Iraqis and on the Americans — appeared to be the kind of information that only highly placed Russian intelligence officials in Iraq would have had access to.
Russian intelligence officials repeatedly have denied having any links with Iraqi spy services.