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Medvedev Rebukes Putin Over Libya

After Putin’s comments that the UN Security Council resolution was “deficient and flawed… reminiscent of a medieval call for a crusade” I was all set to come back to my desk and write an angry post about how two-faced and cowardly the Russian Government’s response to the crisis in Libya has been.

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After Putin’s comments that the UN Security Council resolution was “deficient and flawed… reminiscent of a medieval call for a crusade” I was all set to come back to my desk and write an angry post about how two-faced and cowardly the Russian Government’s response to the crisis in Libya has been.

But then Medvedev, the Russian President and technically Putin’s boss, intervened in spectacular style.

“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.

“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.”

That’s a pretty direct rebuke of Putin, stronger by measures of magnitude than anything we’ve ever heard from Medvedev before.

I’m sure there will be cynics who think that it’s a fake argument. I may be wrong, but I can’t imagine that Medvedev and Putin, conservative men to their core, would pick now to demonstrate that they are both independent men. There are so many other, less politically charged debates that they could pick – why choose this one?

Medvedev’s comment today is the single most surprising story I’ve heard coming out of Russia in the past decade.

I tell you one thing. I’m waiting with baited breath for Putin’s response…

Why Putin’s response was two-faced and cowardly. Or stupid.

As an aside, I thought I’d go into who I think is right. In my opinion, Medvedev. Why? Because Russia knew damn well what it was getting into when it vetoed the UN Resolution.

The US and European powers have always made clear that the first step in establishing any no-fly zone is to establish air superiority. It doesn’t mean just waiting until a Libyan airplane takes off and trying to shoot it down. It means destroying the Libyan air force’s command and control facility, allowing them to patrol freely over Libya.

And, more, Russia knew that “all necessary measures… to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack” meant bombing Libyan military on the ground, and again, their command and control centres, which would be located in cities.

You can argue all you want about whether the UN resolution is a good one or not. But the fact is, Russia knew that this is what the US, France and UK were going to do. They knew exactly what would happen once the resolution was passed, and they still didn’t vote against the resolution.

In other words, Russia was not opposed to what was about to happen.

So to turn around now, express anger and surprise at the way things have developed is simply two-faced. Either that, or it’s plain ignorant. Take your pick, I suppose!

For Medvedev, there simply was no way that he could turn to the world with a straight face and agree with Putin.


  • As Russia’s (now dismissed) ambassador to Libya correctly noted, Medvedev is a craven coward and traitor to his country. He has sunk deep into anti-Russian liberalism, shown his contempt for Russian popular opinion, and now presents a threat to Russian national security. He should be impeached.

  • Interesting – I’d seen that he’d fired the Libyan ambassador for not acting in Russia’s interests, but not seen Chamov’s criticism of Medvedev in response – do you have a quote, or link to a quote?

  • The news (rumors?) are that he was fired FOR accusing Medvedev of treason.

    Экс-посол России в Ливии Владимир Чамов возвращается в Москву. Чамов прибывает 22 марта 2011 года около 23.00 в аэропорт Шереметьево рейсом из Туниса. По информации ряда изданий, причиной отставки посла за несколько часов до голосования в Совете безопасности ООН по Ливии стало то, что он в телеграмме, направленной на имя Президента России Дмитрия Медведева, назвал его «предателем».

    I salute the hero.

  • Thanks Peter and Anatoly.

    Here’s Putin’s response (well, his spokesman’s response – I assume Putin’s wishing he’d not said anything at all right now).

    “But during a visit by Putin to the Slovenian capital of Ljubljana, the premier’s spokesman stressed that the premier’s assessment of the situation was merely his “own point of view.”

    “The announcement by the head of state is Russia’s only official position, and one that everyone adheres to,” Dmitry Peskov told journalists.”

  • Oh, I don’t know; Medvedev later made statements that began to sound more and more like he agreed with Putin, such as “indiscriminate use of force” on the part of NATO.

    And I wouldn’t go so far as to say if Russia didn’t veto or vote against the resolution, that presupposed they were not opposed to it. They simply knew there was no percentage in bucking it. And since then the no-fly zone has expanded to NATO acting as the rebel air force, talk of supplying weapons to the rebels (which, experts suggest, will lead to NATO personnel participating directly in a ground war, since the rebels will have to be trained in their use), and urging from disengaged conservatives who have not served in the military for NATO to up the ante to more direct participation. You’ll notice the Arab League, who appeared to back the no-fly zone originally, is getting distinctly uncomfortable with the spectacle of NATO getting its war on.

    Before this is over, Putin may look visionary.

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