Russia's ruling tandem showed signs of an open crack for the first time as President Dmitry Medvedev publicly scolded Prime Minister Vladimir Putin for harshly criticising the U.N. Security Council resolution allowing military action in Libya.
Mr. Putin condemned the resolution as a “deficient and flawed” document that reminded him of “medieval calls for crusades”. Shortly afterwards, Mr. Medvedev called Mr. Putin's remarks “impermissible”.
Speaking at a missile factory in central Russia on Monday, Mr. Putin said the U.N. resolution “effectively allows interference in a sovereign state” and called the Western intervention a “foreign invasion”.
In response, Mr. Medvedev defended the resolution as prompted by Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi's crimes and stood by Russia's decision to abstain in the Security Council vote rather than use the right of veto.
“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,” said Mr. Medvedev.
Mr. Putin also lashed out at the U.S. policy of intervention in other countries' affairs. He described it as a “stable trend,” recalling the U.S. air strikes on Belgrade under President Bill Clinton, as well as Afghanistan and Iraq under the two Bush administrations.
“Now it's Libya's turn — under the pretext of protecting civilians,” said the Premier. “Where is logic and morality? There is neither.”
Mr. Putin made his remarks shortly after visiting U.S. Secretary of Defence Robert Gates hailed Moscow's siding with Washington on Iran, Afghanistan and Libya and called for the Russian military to join Western coalition forces.
“The ongoing events in Libya prove that Russia is right in strengthening its defence capabilities,” said Mr. Putin.