Russia's Putin Demands Swift End to Iraqi War

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Russian President Vladimir Putin demanded Thursday that the United States quickly end its attack on Iraq, and said the use of military force against Saddam Hussein was not justified.

Russia, along with France and Germany, opposed any resolution in the U.N. Security Council that would have sanctioned the use of force. President Bush withdrew the resolution on Monday.

"Russia demands the swiftest end to military action," Putin said at the start of a meeting with top officials. "The military action against Iraq is a big political mistake."

Putin reiterated his belief that military action wasn't necessary to determine if Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, and if so, to disarm Saddam Hussein.

"The military action in Iraq is being conducted in spite of world opinion, in spite of the principles and norms of international law and the U.N. Charter," Putin said. "This military action cannot be justified."

Putin said the U.N. Security Council should quickly address the crisis. He has been outspoken in his condemnation of military action in recent days, after weeks of silence while diplomats at the United Nations wrestled over the standoff.

"If we allow international law to be replaced by the right of might ... then one of the main principles of international law, the principle of the inviolability of the sovereignty of states, will be thrown into question," he said.