Gates visits Russia as Putin decries UN action on Libya
Russian Prime Minister Putin said the Western assault on Qaddafi's offensive capabilities resembles a medieval crusade.
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"The [UN resolution authorizing the action] is defective and flawed," Mr. Putin said during a visit to a Russian missile factory. "It allows everything. It resembles medieval calls for crusades."
Russia signaled a new willingness to compromise with Western powers by abstaining on last week's UN Security Council resolution authorizing "all necessary measures" to protect Libyan civilians from forces loyal to Colonel Qaddafi – the former Soviet Union would have vetoed it in a heartbeat – but Moscow has since become harshly critical of what it sees as an excessive and ill-focused exercise of military power. And it's not only Russia.
Common BRIC policy?
Experts say the similar doubt being publicly raised by all the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) suggests that the informal bloc of emerging economic tigers might be starting to coordinate their foreign policies to stage a collective pushback against the dominance of the old-line powers that are leading the charge in Libya.
"As of today, we see serious reservations about the way the Libya operation is being conducted coming from Russia, Brazil, China, India, and Germany," says Vladimir Davidov, an expert on BRIC and director of the official Institute of Latin American Studies in Moscow.
"Germany is the odd man out here, but the others constitute a group that has been consulting among themselves on foreign policy positions for about five years. They want to expand their influence on global affairs, to make changes in the system to reflect their common interests. I think this is going to be a growing factor in years to come."
Indian External Affairs Minister S. M. Krishna said Monday that India "regrets that the air strikes are taking place," because they could potentially "harm innocent civilians, foreign nationals, diplomatic missions, and their personnel in Libya."
A spokesperson for the foreign ministry of China, which also abstained on the UN resolution, said Sunday that "China, as always, does not agree with the use of force in international relations." Brazil, a nonvoting member of the Security Council, abstained from voting on the resolution after making clear that it opposed international militarization of the crisis in Libya.
The Arab League, which first called for imposition of a no-fly zone over Libya to hobble Qaddafi, has also been expressing second thoughts as they watch the swift and destructive Western air campaign. But on Monday Amr Moussa, secretary general of the Arab League, said, "We respect the UN resolution and there is no conflict with it, especially as it indicated there would be no invasion but that it would protect civilians from what they are subject to in Benghazi."