Putin likens UN resolution to 'medieval crusade call'
Vladimir Putin, the Russian prime minister, criticised the air strikes on Libya yesterday and likened the United Nations resolution that allowed the attacks to "a medieval call to crusade".
His comments led to a rebuke from Dmitry Medvedev, the president, who said it was unacceptable to make such historical comparisons and warned that such remarks risked stirring up more trouble.
"The resolution is defective and flawed," Mr Putin told workers at a Russian ballistic missile factory. "I am concerned by the ease with which decisions to use force are taken in international affairs. This is becoming a persistent tendency in US policy.
"During the Clinton era they bombed Belgrade; Bush sent forces into Afghanistan and then under an invented, false pretext they sent forces into Iraq.
"Now it is Libya's turn, under the pretext of protecting the peaceful population. But in air strikes it is precisely the civilian population that gets killed. Where is the logic and the conscience?"
Mr Medvedev described the remarks as "unacceptable".
"Under no circumstances is it acceptable to use expressions which essentially lead to a clash of civilisations. Such as [talking of] a 'crusade' and so on," he said.
"Otherwise everything could end up much worse compared to what is going on now. Everyone should remember that."
Russia, which has arms and oil deals with Libya totalling billions of dollars, decided not to exercise its veto in Thursday's vote at the UN and abstained. It sacked its ambassador to Libya for his staunch support of Col Gaddafi. The Kremlin was reported to have been divided over the issue.
India added to a growing chorus of criticism over the air strikes. SM Krishna, the foreign minister, said they would cause more harm to "innocent civilians, foreign nationals and diplomatic missions".
Brazil and China also abstained from the UN vote, which was backed by 10 nations, that allowed use of "all necessary measures" to protect Libyan civilians from Col Gaddafi's forces. (© Daily Telegraph, London)