MOSCOW – Russia's foreign minister accused the United States on Monday of having "hidden political motives" for a report that said Moscow turned over information on American military plans to Saddam Hussein during the invasion of Iraq.
The Pentagon report released Friday said two captured Iraqi documents indicate that Russia obtained information from sources "inside the American Central Command" in Qatar. Russia passed battlefield intelligence to Saddam through the former Russian ambassador in Baghdad, Vladimir Titorenko, according to the Pentagon report.
The unclassified report does not assess the value or accuracy of the information Saddam got or offer details on Russia's information pipeline. Moscow fiercely opposed the U.S.-led war to oust Saddam.
Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service dismissed the claims over the weekend as "baseless accusations," and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov reiterated that dismissal Monday.
"How this was done allows one to speculate that this has hidden political motives and that this is being done in connection with Iraq, but I can hardly be sure of it," he said.
"It is unclear to us why the international community has to learn about such facts regarding Russian inteligence cooperation in Iraq from the media."
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the Bush administration will ask Russia about the report.
"Any implication that there were those from a foreign government who may have been passing information to the Iraqis prior to the invasion would be, of course, very worrying," Rice said in a TV interview.
"I would think the Russians would want to take that very seriously as well."