Prime Minister Vladimir Putin comments on the situation in Libya during a meeting with workers at the Votkinsk plant in Udmurtia

« The Russian government is not involved in foreign affairs and foreign policy. Our government is mainly occupied with socio-economic issues. But if you are interested in my personal opinion, then I can say that I certainly have one.

The first issue is defining the Libyan regime. Russian leaders have already voiced their opinions on this. As Dmitry Medvedev said, the Libyan regime is not democratic by any criteria. This is obvious and there is nothing to add to this.

Naturally, Libya is a complex country. It is based on the relations between tribes, and thus requires a special approach. The country’s internal political situation has escalated into an armed struggle. But this does not mean that anyone outside the country has the right to interfere in the internal political conflict, even an armed one, by backing one side. This is my first point.

My second point relates to the UN Security Council resolution based on which the current intervention – a military intervention – is being carried out. This resolution is flawed and inadequate. If one reads it, then it immediately becomes clear that it authorises anyone to take any measures against a sovereign state. All in all, it reminds me of a medieval call to crusade, when someone calls upon others to go somewhere and free someone else. So, this is my second point.

Now let’s turn to the events in Libya. As I already said, we are speaking about the use of military force. By the way, Russia did not vote for this Security Council resolution.

Let me say a few words about what is in fact happening there. It is clear that it is a military intervention from outside. But this is not what worries me – there are many armed conflicts, there always have been and unfortunately this will continue to be the case for a long time – I am concerned with the ease with which a decision can be made on the use of force in international affairs nowadays. For example, it is becoming a trend in U.S. foreign policy. Under Bill Clinton, Yugoslavia and Belgrade were bombed; under President Bush troops were deployed in Afghanistan and then under a contrived and completely false pretext troops entered Iraq and the Iraqi government was eliminated. Even children in Saddam Hussein’s family were killed.

Now it’s Libya’s turn – and the pretext is the protection of the civilian population. But it is civilians that are killed in bombings. So where’s the logic and conscience here? Neither is present. There have already been casualties among civilians, for whom these bombings are supposedly being carried out.

I would like to say that we want to live in peace with everyone, and we intend to do so. We don’t want to quarrel with anyone, much less wage wars, God forbid. But what is happening in Libya today proves once again that what we are doing to reinforce Russia’s defence capabilities is right. And the new government armament programme that I’ve just mentioned is designed to address these issues.

And the Votkinsk plant has a large role to play in this programme, and we are counting on your help. Thank you very much. »