‘Genuine Solidarity’: Ex-FM Recalls Russian Response to 9/11 Attacks in US

In the immediate aftermath of the September 11, 2001, attacks no one in the US government knew what was going on, Russian ex-Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said in an interview with RIA Novosti.

According to Igor Ivanov, upon receiving the tragic news, President Vladimir Putin ordered an immediate telephone linkup with US President George W. Bush.

“Bush was on the plane because [the Secret Service] was trying to move him out as they feared a similar attack on the White House. No one knew what was going on. Sergei Ivanov tried to get in touch with Condoleezza Rice and I – to get through to Colin Powell. We finally managed to put Putin through,” said Ivanov, who served as Foreign Minister from 1998 until 2004.

“After talking to President Bush, Putin instructed our government agencies to work closely with their US colleagues in the war on terror. I immediately called Colin Powell to express our solidarity and discuss what we were going to do next,” Ivanov recalled.

"As instructed by [President Putin] I conveyed his personal message to [President] Bush. It outlined our position on fighting international terrorism and our readiness to build up our across-the-board cooperation with the United States,” Ivanov continued.

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He described the US President’s reaction to Moscow’s support during that difficult period as very emotional.

“Visibly moved, he expressed his heartfelt gratitude to Vladimir Putin and the Russian people for being the first to lend a helping hand to the United States during that difficult period, and called for a new, positive boost to relations between our two countries,” Ivanov said, adding that the 9/11 attacks sparked the biggest ever surge of pro-American sentiment in Russia.

“Many of our people were voicing their solidarity with the Americans. Coming to the US embassy on September 11 to sign a book of condolences for the victims, I was amazed to see Muscovites lining up to lay floral tributes at the entrance to the embassy. It was a sign of genuine solidarity and opinion polls conducted in the months after 9/11 indicated possibly the highest level of pro-American sentiment among our people,” Ivanov noted.

On September 11, 2001, a group of al-Qaeda-trained terrorists hijacked four planes, two of which crashed into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City,  the third into the Pentagon headquarters in Washington and the fourth crashed in a field in rural Pennsylvania.

The fall of the World Trade Center and the loss of over 3,000 lives in the 9/11 attacks prompted then-US President George W. Bush to declare a "war on terror" a few weeks later.

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