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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.

By Correspondent / March 21, 2011

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates addresses military officers at the Naval Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia on March 21.

Charles Dharapak/Reuters

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Moscow

Defense Secretary Robert Gates will probably get an earful of Russia's objections to the United Nations-sanctioned military operation in Libya when he meets Tuesday with President Dmitry Medvedev.

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A taste of what he might expect was unleashed Monday by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who compared the Western assault against Muammar Qaddafi's offensive capabilities to a medieval crusade.

"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.

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