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Putin takes Bush's side against Democrats on Iraq
Updated: 2004-06-11 09:54

Russian President Vladimir Putin stepped into the U.S. political campaign on Thursday, saying the Democrats had "no moral right" to criticize President Bush over Iraq.

The Kremlin leader, answering a reporter's question in Sea Island, Georgia, suggested that the Democrats were two-faced in criticizing Bush on Iraq since it had been the Clinton administration that authorized the 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia by U.S. and NATO forces.

Russian President Vladimir Putin walks off after giving a press conference on the final day of the G8 Summit in Sea Island, Georgia, June 10, 2004. The G8 members have apparently agreed on a common approach to reform in the Middle East but differences have surfaced over NATO's role in the process. [Reuters]
The reporter had asked Putin to respond to U.S. press articles questioning Russia's place at the G8 feast of leading industrial countries.

Putin brushed these off, saying such articles were part of an internal U.S. political debate.

He went on: "I am deeply convinced that President Bush's political adversaries have no moral right to attack him over Iraq because they did exactly the same.

"It suffices to recall Yugoslavia. Now look at them. They don't like what President Bush is doing in Iraq."

Russia was adamantly opposed to the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, as it has been to the U.S.-led military operation Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein.

At the same time, Putin forged a strong friendship with Bush by offering immediate support in the global fight against terrorism. Both men go out of their way now to avoid criticizing each other publicly.

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