MOSCOW -- President Mikhail S. Gorbachev sternly warned Iraq yesterday that the united front of West and East against its occupation of Kuwait will not weaken and that it will face a "tough resolution" of the U.N. Security Council this week.
Meeting with Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz, Mr. Gorbachev "asked him to convey to Saddam Hussein an urgent appeal to weigh everything once more, because the fate of Iraq is in the hands of its leaders. Time is running out," the Tass news agency said.
He dismissed the Iraqi envoy's "well-known arguments," which contained nothing new, Tass said.
Mr. Gorbachev also demanded that Iraq keep its pledge to permit the departure of Soviet military and civilian specialists. He denounced as "against the norms of ethics" Iraq's piecemeal releases of hostages.
"Aggression is unacceptable. It should be punished," Mr. Gorbachev told the Supreme Soviet before meeting Mr. Aziz last night.
"We're for the preservation of unity of action in the framework of the United Nations," he said. "We reaffirm that we will cooperate with all, with the United States . . . with the United Nations, with the Arabs, Europeans, Asians -- so as not to give any reason or any hope to the regime of Saddam Hussein to think he'll manage to split up this unity."
The new Foreign Ministry spokesman, Vitaly I. Churkin, said Iraq had reneged on an agreement to permit 1,000 Soviet workers to leave for home in November and had allowed only 350 out. He said 3,315 Soviet citizens are in Iraq.
"This is totally abnormal and unacceptable," he said.
The tough language was probably for the ears not only of Iraq but of the Soviet Union's Western allies, who are rushing to put together food aid packages to help the country through a tough winter.
TH It reflected the fact that since the Soviet Union has aligned itself
squarely with the West, Iraq has decided to treat Soviet citizens almost like Western hostages.
Despite the toughening of rhetoric, Mr. Gorbachev reiterated that "the main goal of our policy remains a solution by political means."
If President Bush is stressing the need to build international backing for use of force against Iraq, Mr. Gorbachev said unity is important because it increases the political isolation of Mr. Hussein and makes a peaceful solution more likely.
A split in the anti-Iraq alliance cannot be allowed, he said, "because we have just begun moving away from the Cold War, during which everything was decided from the position of strength. . . . We should prove to ourselves and to all the community of nations that we are capable of resolving on political bases, with new approaches and new methods, any conflict, even the most severe. I think, comrades, it will be resolved that way."
Mr. Gorbachev has rejected heatedly suggestions that Soviet support for the U.S. stance in the gulf has been purchased with promises of aid. But he has recently become less reticent about linking Soviet foreign policy in general and Western assistance.
The Soviet president, whose failure to turn around the Soviet economy has overshadowed his foreign policy successes, has every political reason to underscore such a connection. Panic buying and disrupted supply channels have left many food stores empty as winter snowfalls begin in earnest. Top economic officials presenting the 1991 plan and budget to Parliament yesterday predicted a significant drop in living standards next year.
Deputy Mayor Sergei B. Stankevich said Moscow will need foreign food aid to get through the winter without major problems, and the first West German shipment of food is expected this week.