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. Russia traded Kyoto for WTO: press
MOSCOW (AFP) Oct 01, 2004
Russia has played one of its last political trump cards -- the Kyoto Protocol -- in hopes of winning European support for its membership in the World Trade Organization, the Russian press said Friday.

Most Moscow newspapers pointed out that the cabinet's decision Thursday to endorse the global warming treaty was a political decision reached quickly at the highest levels of the Kremlin, perhaps by President Vladimir Putin himself.

Several top ministers who for years argued against the treaty's merits spoke Thursday in favor of Kyoto, which should be ratified by Russia within three months by a vote in the pro-Kremlin lower house of parliament.

"Russia has to yield European pressure. We have not yet entered the World Trade Organization, and the recent reforms (of Putin) to reinforce his powers have prompted a negative reaction in the West," Vremya Novostei said.

Russia's backing of the Kyoto Protocol displays Moscow's will to "be a loyal and civilized political player on the international scene," the liberal daily said.

The respected Izvestia daily said Russia, which holds the swing vote on the treaty's implementation after the pact's rejection by the United States, billed the cabinet's move as "political ecology."

And even the state-run Rossiyskaya Gazeta, which cautiously treads the official line, said Russia had an interest in "going a step toward the EU".

Moscow has been hedging its bets for years as its weighs its own economic policies against the broader diplomatic benefits of allying itself closer to the United States -- the world's biggest polluter -- or its largest trading partner Europe.

Countries which are not signatories to Kyoto -- like the United States -- will not be bound by the pact even if it enters into force.

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