Question: It turns out that a breakthrough by ”old“ Europe towards Russia has occurred. You agree?
President Putin: It seems to me that indeed an event has occurred which not all have yet appreciated. What's the novelty? It is that for the first time in postwar history an attempt was made to resolve a complicated, acute international security problem outside the bloc. This, in essence, to my mind, can well be regarded as the first step towards the creation of the very same multipolar world of which we have so much spoken. This could have occurred nowhere but in France. If we had attempted to do that in Russia, we would at once have been accused of driving wedges between Europe and the United States.
Question: Is the US attitude to the Russian-French-German initiative known?
President Putin: It is known. We're making no secret of our position. Our position, in principle, remains unchanged. We are against the use of force. We do not consider that we must shield the Iraqi regime. We feel that pressure needs to be exerted and clear demands formulated upon Iraq. If the inspectors lack something, let them say what demands we are to make upon Iraq. We will make them on behalf of the United Nations Security Council and see how Iraq reacts. If it reacts badly, we will be ready to take other steps, tougher. There are no changes in our position. So I think this is a logical sequel to our joint work and we count on being listened to. … We aren't creating any axes. I consider that this is but the first little building block in the construction of a truly multipolar world.
We suggest a solution of the problem and hope to convince our partners that the option we propose is far more productive and corresponds to the realities of today on this issue. I think that if we will work accurately, consistently and tactfully, then the number of supporters of that position will keep increasing. I hope so. How events develop we shall see. Maybe we will manage to convince our American partners as well. I must say a very important thing: without the tough stand of the United States, we could hardly have pushed Iraq towards cooperation in its present form.