Kremlin says maintains ties with Gaddafi

The Kremlin will maintain diplomatic ties with Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, but does not condemn those fighting against him, a Russian presidential aide said on Wednesday.

“We maintain diplomatic relations with the current Libyan authorities,” Sergei Prikhodko told journalists in Moscow, before adding that the situation in Libya is a result of “Gaddafi’s own unacceptable actions.”

“That is why the moral position of those fighting against him is quite clear and cannot be condemned,” Prikhodko said. He added that Russia would maintain a “balanced” approach towards Libya.

Russia, which initially opposed military action against Gaddafi’s forces, was among the five countries to abstain from the UN Security Council vote on Thursday that imposed a no-fly zone over Libya.

A Security Council permanent member, Russia did not use its veto right to block the resolution, which authorized “all necessary measures” to protect civilians from leader Muammar Gaddafi’s attacks on rebel-held towns.

On Monday, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin caused outrage by publicly likening the military intervention to “medieval calls for crusades.” Following his statement, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev told journalists at a hastily arranged news conference that he “does not consider the UN resolution to be wrong.” He also described Putin’s remark as “unacceptable.”

Medvedev reiterated on Tuesday Moscow’s offer to mediate in the conflict in Libya during a meeting with U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates near Moscow.

Airstrikes, which have been carried out by international coalition warplanes since Saturday, have caused significant damage to Libya’s defense facilities. Libyan state television has reported that at least 60 civilians have been killed and over 150 wounded by the attacks.

MOSCOW, March 23 (RIA Novosti)

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