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Russia Protests Bombing Near Baghdad Embassy

BY Admin  April 2, 2003 at 8:20 PM EDT

Bombing early Wednesday had apparently struck targets only a few hundred yards from the Russian embassy and the foreign ministry in Moscow summoned American envoy Alexander Vershbow to discuss the situation.

“The Russian side demanded that American authorities take urgent and exhaustive measures to prevent such dangerous and unacceptable incidents in the future,” the Foreign Ministry said after the meeting. “The safety of personnel of the Russian diplomatic representation was in immediate danger.”

American officials in Moscow and Washington said that military planners were taking extra measures to ensure embassies and other international locations would not be accidentally hit. The planning is seen as more critical since NATO air strikes hit the Chinese embassy in Belgrade during its 1999 to end ethnic conflict in Kosovo.

A spokesman for the U.S. embassy in Moscow told reporters that the differences would not affect long-term relations.

“Bilateral relations are going to weather this storm,” he said.

The diplomatic standoff comes on the eve of a meeting between U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov in Brussels.

The two nations have been at odds over the military action in Iraq, and relations have been described in both Russian and American press as “strained.”

Despite the continued standoff, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he hoped the war would end quickly in the coalition’s favor.

“It is not in Russia’s interest to see the United States defeated. What is in our interest is to see this issue put back within the framework of the United Nations,” Putin said in a televised interview. “The sooner this happens, the better it will be for all countries involved in this conflict.”

The latest sparring came a week after the U.S. accused Russian businesses of selling Iraq banned military equipment, including electronic jamming equipment and night vision goggles. Moscow has denied the allegations.