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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.

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"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."

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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."

Impact on Moscow politics

Russia's decision not to block the UN resolution was probably the result of a tough compromise between Mr. Medvedev, who favors greater cooperation with the West, and more hard-line forces in the foreign and defense ministries, analysts say.

"Russia's leadership is clearly split over this issue, with Medvedev being most interested in seeing Russia become a member of the Western group of democratic countries," says Alexander Konovalov, president of the independent Institute for Strategic Assessments in Moscow. "The Kremlin's view is that we have a long list of good reasons to cooperate with the West, so why jeopardize our improving relations with the US and European Union over Libya?"


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