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Russia's Vladimir Putin says West is fomenting jihadi 'blowback'

Moscow is criticized for weak support of the Arab Spring, and for actively backing Bashir al-Assad in Syria. But the Kremlin says its policies are consistent and the West is exporting revolt.

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"Russia is on the frontier, we are in jihad territory," says Yevgeny Satanovsky, president of the independent Institute of Middle Eastern Studies in Moscow.

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"Our own fringes, the northern Caucasus, Central Asiaand even the central Volga region  are threatened. That's why we're very clear about who the enemy is.. . .  We know this, and you would think that after 9/11 and other events that our American and European colleagues would have some clarity about it, too. Yet they always seem ready to play with fire, and to use militant jihadists against Russia and its national interests – as they did in Afghanistan, Chechnya, Libya, and Syria," he adds.

Over the past decade Russia has used its UN Security Council vote to oppose the US invasion of Iraq aimed at overthrowing dictator Saddam Hussein; yet it has strongly supported NATO's anti-Taliban mission in Afghanistan. Last year, Putin even urged the Western allies not to leave Afghanistan before the "job was done" and Moscow gave NATO the use of a huge airbase in central Russia to help with the resupply effort to its embattled forces there. 

Moscow abstained on the March 2011 Security Council resolution that authorized the use of force "to protect civilians" in Libya, and last month it actually backed another resolution empowering France and others to intervene against Islamists threatening to overrun Mali.

On the other hand, Russia has repeatedly vetoed any resolution aimed at international cooperation to ease Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad from power and continues to back his regime with political support and shipments of weaponry. The UN estimates 60,000 killed in the ongoing civil war in Syria, with some 500,000 to 600,000 displaced or categorized as refugees.

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