Medvedev calls to stop conflict in Libya

Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev has called to stop the conflict in Libya through negotiations.

­He expressed concern that air strikes could turn into ground fighting. Medvedev said Russia will not take part in any actions against Libya.

Russia's president says developments in Libya are a result of the shameful behavior of the country's government and the crimes against its people.

“The Russian Federation, from the very beginning, wanted the resolution of this problem to take place thorough peaceful means. At the same time, we were very thorough in monitoring the situation and we definitely condemned the actions of the Libyan government with respect to their own people,” Medvedev said.

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­Russia abstained from a UN Security Council resolution adopted on March 17 imposing a no-fly zone over Libya and taking measures to protect civilians from Muammar Gaddafi's forces.

­Medvedev explained Russia’s decision to abstain in the Security Council vote rather than use the right to veto.

“We did not use our right to veto for one simple reason – we did not think this resolution was wrong. And basically we think this resolution reflects our understanding of what is taking place in Libya, but not completely.”

If Russia had vetoed the resolution, it could not have been passed.

Medvedev also said that the international community should consolidate its efforts to end the conflict in Libya.

“The main problem, I think, is that there is no coalition coordinating policy,” he said. “Even though some countries, some of our partners, are currently acting to put things in order, their actions are not coordinated. There is no common plan to strengthen law and order in Libya.”

­Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who is currently in the region holding talks with the leadership of Arab states, stressed that foreign intervention in Libya should not harm the civilian population.

”Of course, we discussed how the UN no-fly zone resolution is being implemented in Libya,” he said. “We totally embraced the position of the Arab League, who requested the UN Security Council to urgently provide protection for civilians. We believe that this should be the goal of the states who volunteered to implement this resolution. The fundamental principle of international humanitarian law is that of the unacceptable use of force against civilians, which should be equally applied to any situation in any country.”

­Meanwhile, Russia convened the UN Security Council on Monday to discuss the situation in Libya.

A closed-door meeting was scheduled to be held after the Security Council received a letter from the Libyan foreign minister calling for negotiations.

The letter decried the bombing campaign that was launched on Libya following the Security Council’s adoption lasts week of a resolution allowing for the imposition of a no-fly zone over the country and paving the way for military intervention. Libyan officials say that the resolution could potentially be in violation of international law. 

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Meanwhile, Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov met with his counterpart Robert Gates in Moscow on Tuesday.  On the second day of Gate’s visit to Russia, the defense heads discussed the current situation in Libya. The Russian side once again voiced its concern about the presence of coalition forces there.

Anatoly Serdyukov said that the ongoing hostilities in Libya are unacceptable and called on the conflicting sides to halt the violence.

"Regrettably, the latest events have shown that actual hostilities have been launched in this country, as a result of which civilian facilities have been damaged and civilians have been killed. This is unacceptable," Serdyukov said following a meeting with his American counterpart, Robert Gates. "Everything should be done to stop the violence,” he added.“We are convinced that an immediate ceasefire and the start of dialogue is the shortest way to reliably ensure security of civilians.”

Roberts Gates seemed to agree with his colleague.

"I also told him that I thought the significant military fighting that has been going on should recede in the next few days," Gates said at a joint briefing.

He also added that only Libyans have the power and the right to decide the fate of their own country, but the coalition presence in Libya is necessary in the context of the UN resolution 1973 in order to guarantee civilians’ security.

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