Russia Changes Stance on Libya
Posted on May 27, 2011
An unexpected voice is joining the international chorus urging Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi to leave. On Friday, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev announced that he would use his country’s solid rapport with Libya to encourage Gadhafi to finally abandon his position—a development that happened on the heels of Medvedev’s meeting with President Obama. —KA
The New York Times:
Mr. Medvedev’s announcement, which came a day after a 90-minute bilateral meeting with President Obama in France represents a pronounced shift in Russia’s tone on Libya. Russia’s criticism of NATO attacks had become increasingly tough over the last months, reviving a longstanding critique of American unilateralism that had quieted since Mr. Obama took office.
By attaching Russia’s prestige to the effort, Mr. Medvedev is taking a gamble. If Colonel Qaddafi could be convinced to leave, Russia would win international plaudits but would also bear some responsibility for guaranteeing his safety. If he cannot, Mr. Medvedev might find it more difficult to keep his distance from the military campaign, which is not popular in Russia.
But for Russia, all those risks may be mitigated by the symbolism of the moment, when it is called on to defuse a violent standoff on behalf of world powers.
AP / Carolyn Kaster
From left, President Obama, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and French President Nicolas Sarkozy wave for photographers at the G-8 Summit in Deauville, France, on Thursday.