Medvedev, Putin in rare public clash over Libya

In what appeared to be a rare public disagreement between Russia's ruling tandem, Medvedev advocated caution in assessing events in other countries, hours after Putin slammed the coalition airstrikes in Libya.

"It is unacceptable to use terms that will essentially lead to a collision of civilisations like 'crusades' and the like. This is unacceptable," Medvedev was quoted as saying by the Russian ITAR TASS news agency.

Putin had earlier criticised the UN Security Council resolution on Libya, saying it was akin to "a medieval call for a crusade".

He said: "The UN Security Council resolution is certainly faulty and deficient... It allows for an invasion of a sovereign country".

Russia, along with China, India, Brazil and Germany, had abstained from voting on the UNSC resolution that authorised international military action in Libya, but did not use its veto to defeat it.

Reacting strongly to Putin's remarks, Medvedev said his government had "conscientiously" refused to veto the resolution.

"I do not consider this resolution wrong. On the whole it reflects our understanding of what is happening... It was a qualified refusal to veto (it)," Medvedev said commenting on Russia's abstention from voting.

"We did it conscientiously. Such were my instructions to the Foreign Ministry," he said.
US-led coalition military strikes against Gaddafi began on Saturday after a month-long uprising by rebels in the North African country.

The western coalition today intensified air and sea strikes on Libyan defence targets flattening a command centre of Muammar Gaddafi close to his private residence in Tripoli.
The Arab League, which supported the UNSC move for the 'no fly' zone, has criticised the heavy bombardments by the western forces, saying several civilians had been killed or wounded

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