Although Russian President Vladimir Putin has been faced with numerous crises since coming to office in 2000, most importantly the war in Chechnya, the Iraq War was the first major international crisis with which his administration was confronted. As in the case of Kosovo for Yeltsin, and the Gulf War for Gorbachev, the Russian President had to deal with conflicting domestic pressures and apparently still more conflicting Russian national and international interests. Indeed, one result of such a situation was a post-war accusation that Putin actually had no policy or at least no consistent policy with regard to the Iraq crisis [Golan, G., 1992. Gorbachev’s difficult time in the Gulf. Political Science Quarterly 107 (2), 213–230]. One may remember similar accusations of Gorbachev’s ‘‘zigzaging’’ in the Gulf War and claims that the Yeltsin government failed to forge a Kasovo policy altogether [Levitin, O., 2000. Inside Moscow’s Kosovo muddle. Survival 42 (1), 130]. Yet, a certain pattern did appear to repeat itself in the Iraqi crisis, namely, pre-war efforts to prevent a military conflict from breaking out, then gradual escalation of rhetoric if not actual involvement, and finally gradual but relatively rapid retreat to conciliatory posture toward the United States (in all three crises). Moreover, Putin was indeed consistent throughout the pre-crisis, crisis and post-crisis periods in his opposition to the Americans’ use of force against Iraq and in the need to remain within a United Nations framework. Actually, one might ask (and we shall below) why Putin did not abandon the first part of this policy, in order to maintain the second component, when it became certain that the U.S. was going to attack, with or without UN Security Council approval.

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