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03-22-2011, 02:39 AM
Medvedev, Putin Clash Over Libya .

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MOSCOW—The Western-led military action in Libya provoked a rare public split in Russia's ruling tandem Monday, as President Dmitry Medvedev appeared to scold his patron, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, for publicly criticizing the effort.

Dressed in a fur-trimmed leather bomber jacket embroidered with the words "Commander in Chief" in Russian, Mr. Medvedev defended his decision not to veto the United Nations Security Council resolution authorizing the action and warned critics to watch their words.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev poses while visiting a base of a special police unit in the town of Shchelkovo outside Moscow. "It's absolutely unacceptable to use phrases that in effect lead to conflict between civilizations, such as 'crusades,' and the like," he said.

He was speaking just hours after Mr. Putin, speaking to workers at a missile factory in central Russia, criticized the U.N. resolution, saying, "the whole thing reminds me of some kind of medieval call to the crusades."

Officials denied any split between the two leaders.

"He was expressing his personal opinion," said a spokesman for Mr. Putin. "The only point of view that matters for foreign policy is the president's."

A Kremlin official also played down any tensions. While the public airing of differences is "unpleasant," he said, "the tandem is still solid."

Russia's main state television channels carried only Mr. Medvedev's comments in their evening newscasts, including no mention of Mr. Putin's earlier words.

Still, politicians and analysts leapt on the comments as evidence of a split within Russia's ruling tandem, where the more-popular Mr. Putin is widely viewed as the stronger partner.

Fyodor Lukyanov, a prominent foreign-policy analyst, said the comments reflect "fundamentally different positions, expressed clearly without any effort to smooth the edges." Mr. Putin has been more skeptical of Western intentions generally—he singled out the U.S. for criticism Monday for alleged interventionism—while Mr. Medvedev has sought to rebuild ties with Washington and Europe.

"Either they didn't consult Mr. Putin or his point of view wasn't taken into account," Mr. Lukyanov added.

Mark Urnov, dean of the political-science department at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, told the Interfax news agency, "For Medvedev, the West is an ally. For Putin, it's something alarming."

Though the two rarely disagree publicly, Messrs. Putin and Medvedev have had similar rhetorical clashes in the past. They have usually been smoothed over quickly.

"This is turning into a trend," said a senior legislator from the ruling party. "I'm not sure there are cracks in the tandem, but we knew there were differences."

The unusual public back-and-forth came as U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is in Russia for meetings with top Russian officials.

In a speech at a military academy in St. Petersburg early Tuesday, he encouraged officers and Russian leaders to find ways for Moscow to cooperate in multilateral coalitions, touting the benefits of international coalitions in the Balkans and now Libya.

While Russia has ruled out participating in the Libya campaign, U.S. officials have hailed Moscow's decision not to use its veto power on the U.N. resolution last week but to abstain as a sign of improving relations.

U.S. officials said they were reassured when Mr. Medvedev seemed to disavow his prime minister's critical comments. They said the difference in approach was more likely to be driven by domestic politics in Russia than a sign of a significant split between the two.

—Adam Entous in St. Petersburg contributed to this article.



03-22-2011, 03:14 AM
Well, at least the Russians seem to be as confused as we are by all of this.

03-22-2011, 04:26 AM
That's an interesting turn of events.

03-22-2011, 07:20 AM

Thanks Vladimir.

03-22-2011, 09:21 AM
So long Medvedev. :shake: I wonder if he'll disappear KGB-style like many of the critical journalists over there? Putin has every intention of running again once this term is up. Medvedev has signed his political, and possibly literal, death warrant by standing up to Putin.