Russian President Putin on 18 December condemned the US-led invasion in Iraq and called it unjustified. 'The use of force abroad, according to existing international laws, can only be sanctioned by the UN,' he said. 'This is international law. Everything that is done without the UN Security Council's sanction cannot be recognised as fair or justified.' He added that Russia fully supported the US' war against global terrorism. 'We do not want the US to lose their war on terrorism,' Putin said. 'We are partners with the US in the fight against terrorism - But as for Iraq, this is a separate matter. There were no international terrorists under [Saddam] Hussain. This is a separate problem.'
Putin's comments came hours before he was scheduled to meet US President Bush's Iraqi debt envoy, James Baker, to discuss the reducing the amount owed by Baghdad. According to Paris Club figures, Moscow is owed $3,500 million in debt from the Soviet era, and another $4,000 million from the post-Soviet era.