Monday, March 21, 2011

Medvedev rebuts Putin over Libya

(many thanks to C for keeping an eye on this fascinating development!)

In a rare faceoff with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, President Dmitry Medvedev said on Monday he stood by Moscow's decision not to veto the UN Security Council resolution on Libya.

"Russia did not exercise [the veto power] for one reason: I do not consider this resolution to be wrong. Moreover, I believe that this resolution generally reflects our understanding of what is going on in Libya," Medvedev said.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin earlier on Monday likened the UN Security Council resolution on Libya to a medieval crusade call.

In response to Putin's comments, Medvedev said the comparison was "inadmissible."

"It is absolutely inexcusable to use expressions that in effect lead to a clash of civilizations - such as 'crusades,' and so on - that is unacceptable," Medvedev said.

Otherwise "everything could end up in far worse shape than it is now," he warned.

"It is important to remember this."

Russia abstained from a UN Security Council resolution adopted on Thursday imposing a no-fly zone over Libya and measures to protect civilians from Muammar Gaddafi's forces.

Medvedev stressed that the Russian Foreign Ministry had acted strictly in compliance with his instructions.

Under the Russian Constitution, the country's foreign policy is formulated by the president, not the prime minister.