Tony Blair: Putin Can’t Use Iraq to Justify Invasion of Ukraine
Former UK PM Tony Blair said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was not the same as the US invasion of Iraq. Photo/Reuters
LONDON – Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair says Russia’s invasion of Ukraine cannot be compared to the US-led invasion of Iraq. He made this statement ahead of the 20th anniversary of the conflict that toppled Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
Blair said Moscow’s troops had invaded a country that had a democratically elected president who had never started regional conflicts or carried out any kind of aggression against its neighbours.
The former British leader said Saddam Hussein, on the other hand, had wronged his own people, engaged in two wars that violated international law and used chemical weapons to kill 12,000 people in one day.
“At least you can say we are getting rid of a despot and trying to introduce democracy,” Blair told several European news agencies.
The 69-year-old British politician admits that Russian leader Vladimir Putin may try to use the invasion of Iraq, which occurred without a UN Security Council mandate, to justify his war of aggression.
“But, you know, if he doesn’t use that excuse, he’ll use another,” Blair said.
Under Blair, Britain joined a coalition of nations — led by then US President George W, Bush — in invading Iraq on March 20, 2003. They did so without a formal declaration of war or a UN mandate.
The invasions occurred after the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and the US.
The goal of removing Saddam Hussein was soon achieved but Iraq quickly plunged into a cycle of violence that lasted years and left hundreds of thousands of people dead.