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Genesis: Historical research
Reference:

The attitude of the Russian Diplomacy towards the Western countries' intervention in the Libyan civil confrontation in 2011

Novodran Ekaterina Mikhailovna

Postgraduate student, Department of World History and International Relations, Luhansk State Pedagogical University

91000, Ukraine, g. Lugansk, ul. Oboronnaya, 2

novodran_ekaterina@mail.ru

DOI:

10.25136/2409-868X.2022.6.38203

Review date:

31-05-2022


Publish date:

07-06-2022


Abstract: The article analyzes the position of Russian diplomacy in relation to the interventionist policy of Western countries in Libya during the deployment of the confrontation in this country in 2011. The object of the study is the policy of the Russian Federation in the Middle East during the active phase of the Arab Spring (2011). The subject of the study is the evolution of the Kremlin's position regarding the intervention of Western countries in the internal affairs of the Middle East (on Libya's example). The main purpose of the work is to study the interventionism of the collective West during the internal political crisis in Libya in 2011 as the main factor that influenced the change in the nature of Moscow's Middle East policy as a whole. The presented research is carried out using general scientific methods of analysis and synthesis, and is also based on the principles of historicism and scientific objectivity. In the course of the study, the author attempts to reflect the objective reasons for the refusal of the Russian Federation from formally following the general policy of Western countries in relation to the Arab Spring and the transition to an independent political course in the Middle East, based primarily on the national interests of the Russian state. Special attention is paid to the comparative analysis of the positions of representatives of the Russian political elite in relation to the operation Unified Protector conducted in Libya.


Keywords: sanctions, Transitional National Council, NATO intervention, UN Security Council Resolution, UN Security Council, NATO, The Arab Spring, Libya, Middle East, Russia
This article is automatically translated. You can find full text of article in Russian here.

The Middle East vector of foreign policy is currently one of the highest priorities for the Russian Federation. Having passed the stages of ideological determinism during the Cold War and almost complete decline in the 1990s, this direction of Russian foreign policy received a new content with the coming to power in Russia in 2000 by Vladimir Putin. The new Foreign Policy Concept of the Russian Federation, approved in the same year, clearly stated the task: to contribute to the formation of a multipolar system of international relations in which Moscow could claim to be one of the leading global players [16]. This role, in turn, required strengthening the position of the Russian Federation in key areas of international rivalry, to which the Middle East belongs, which has large natural resources, and at the same time is extremely unstable in social and political terms. To this end, in the 2000s. The Kremlin set a course for a gradual "return" to the Middle East: lost ties were restored, suspended projects were resumed, agreements on further trade and economic cooperation were concluded. As a result, by the beginning of the "Arab Spring", of which the events discussed in this article are a part, the Russian leadership managed to develop and implement a flexible, pragmatic and multi-vector policy with respect to the Middle East, characterized by restraint and a verified position in relation to internal conflicts that shook the region. One of the most striking examples of the latter is Russia's policy towards the civil confrontation in Libya, which unfolded in 2011.

The importance of the Middle East in the modern system of Russian foreign policy priorities has led experts to pay close attention to various aspects of the Kremlin's policy in this region. Among the studies of this kind, one can note the works of V.V. Naumkin [22], A.M. Khazanov [46], A.V. Demchenko [8], A. Vysotsky [4], M.A. Sapronova [38], etc. At the same time, the aspect of Russia's Middle East policy that we touched upon came to the attention of a much smaller number of specialists. Among them, first of all, it should be noted Doctor of Historical Sciences, Professor of Lomonosov Moscow State University L.E. Grishaeva. A recognized expert on the history of the UN, Russia's foreign policy, and international relations in recent times, L.E. Grishaeva in her articles investigated Moscow's official position with regard to the above-mentioned events in Libya in the general context of the reaction of Russian diplomacy at the UN to regional conflicts in the early 2010s [6, 7]. Some aspects of the problem we have touched upon were also considered in A.A. Chernykh's PhD thesis on the evolution of Russia's position on the crisis in Arab countries in 2010-2015. [48]. At the same time, as far as we know, there are no special works on this problem to date. This article aims to fill the existing gap by involving official publications of documents posted on the official websites of the President of the Russian Federation, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, the United Nations, NATO, materials of periodicals and online publications, etc.

At the stage of the emergence of anti-government protests in the Middle East, the starting point of which was the riots in Tunisia, the Russian Foreign Ministry showed a rather restrained reaction to the events taking place. Commenting on the current situation, the official representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry A.K. Lukashevich on January 15, 2011 stated the following: "Moscow is seriously concerned about the development of the situation in friendly Tunisia. We believe that it is in the interests of all Tunisians to return the situation to normal as soon as possible..." [14]. As we can see from the initial reaction, Russian diplomacy, avoiding value judgments and any recommendations, took the position of a passive observer, not intending to interfere in any way in the internal affairs of the country gripped by protests.

However, the rapid radicalization of the civil confrontation in Libya soon showed the inconsistency of such a wait-and-see attitude. Mass clashes with human casualties, M. Gaddafi's resolute statements about his readiness to fight the protesters to the end, without stopping before using "extreme measures if necessary", as well as information actively replicated in the Western media about artillery and aviation allegedly used against the demonstrators (this fact was not subsequently confirmed. E.N. ), led to the fact that purely intra-Libyan events became the subject of serious concern of the world community, finding their response in the UN [28]. In particular, in a statement issued on February 21, 2011 On behalf of the then UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, an unambiguous assessment of the events in Libya was given: "Such attacks on civilians, if confirmed, would constitute a serious violation of international humanitarian law and would be condemned in the strongest terms by the Secretary-General."[51]

The Russian Foreign Ministry reacted to the situation literally the next day a message for the media appeared on the official website of the department, expressing concern about the transition to a sharp confrontation between the parties to the internal political conflict in Libya: "... the death of civilians causes extreme concern in Moscow. We are convinced that force cannot and should not be a method of solving society's problems" [26]. However, in its resolute part, the message did not break out of the general outline of the adopted course of non-interference, limiting itself to an abstract call for an end to violence against citizens and the transfer of the confrontation "into a political channel in order to avoid a deep national split and further escalation of the crisis" [26].

A much more dynamic reaction to what was happening in Libya was demonstrated by Russia's main geopolitical rival for influence in the Middle East the North Atlantic Alliance. On February 25, 2011, NATO Secretary General A.F. Rasmussen convened an emergency meeting of the North Atlantic Council, at which different opinions were voiced regarding the settlement of the situation in Libya in the way desired by the West; among other things, it was not excluded the possibility of resolving the conflict through armed intervention from the outside [21]. Interestingly, in the subsequent communication with the press, the NATO Secretary General avoided direct answers to any questions about the likelihood of NATO's participation in the Libyan crisis [50].

The next day, the 6491st meeting of the UN Security Council (hereinafter referred to as the UN Security Council) was held in New York, which was attended by 15 countries (5 permanent and 10 non-permanent participating countries). The issues discussed at the meeting related to the imposition of sanctions against the ruling regime in Libya, as well as humanitarian assistance to Libyan citizens. Among the main provisions of the draft resolution, introduced at the initiative of the United States and its European allies, there were demands for the Libyan authorities to "immediately put an end to violence ... and take steps to meet the legitimate demands of the population." More radical measures against the current regime included paragraphs of the resolution providing for the transfer of the issue "on the situation in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya since February 15, 2011 to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court" (paragraphs 4-8), the application of an arms embargo against Libya (paragraphs 9-14), the freezing of assets of members of the Gaddafi family (paragraphs 17-21), ensuring that [UN member states] take the necessary measures to "prevent the entry into or transit through their territory" of members of the Gaddafi family and some close officials of the country accused of violence against demonstrators (paragraphs 15-16) [33].

Following the vote, Resolution 1970 was adopted unanimously. Russia, China, the United States, Great Britain, France and other participating countries in their speeches after the vote unanimously condemned the use of force against the civilian population of Libya. The rhetoric of the representative of the United Kingdom, Sir Mark Lyall Grant, was particularly harsh, emphasizing in his speeches the "appalling situation in Libya" and blaming Colonel Gaddafi for "violence ... and incitement to its escalation" [40, p. 2]. The goals of the collective West regarding the conflict in Libya were fully voiced by US representative Condoleezza Rice, who accused the Libyan leader of using mercenaries "to attack their citizens," and also quoted President Barack Obama, who said earlier in the day that Gaddafi's only means "to stay in power." the authorities are becoming widespread use of violence, which means that he has lost the legitimate grounds for leadership and he needs to do what is in the interests of his country immediately resign" [40, p. 4].

The rhetoric of the Russian Federation was sustained in a fundamentally different way. Thus, in his speeches, the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the UN, V. Churkin, focused primarily on the need for an immediate cessation of violence and "prevention of a full-scale civil war, preservation of Libya as a single, sovereign, territorially integral state" [40, p. 5]. Avoiding hasty conclusions about the true causes of the civil confrontation in this Arab country, the Russian diplomat called on "all parties involved to show responsibility, observe the norms of international civil law and human rights" [40, p. 5]. Stressing that the settlement of the situation in Libya is possible only if it is transferred to a political channel, Churkin at the same time emphasized that the adopted resolution does not give "even indirect sanctions for military intervention in Libyan affairs, which could only aggravate the situation" [5]. As we can see, already at this stage of the discussion of the civil conflict in Libya at the UN, Russian diplomacy, while maintaining unanimity with the Western initiators of the resolution regarding the speedy cessation of violence in this country, did not share their position on the methods of ending such violence, firmly stating the unacceptability of external interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign state. It is noteworthy that Russia has also taken this position in relation to other Middle Eastern states, on the territory of which the events of the "Arab Spring" unfolded.

Having voted for the adoption of Resolution 1970, the Russian Federation has faithfully begun to implement its paragraphs. March 9, 2011 President Dmitry Medvedev signed Decree No. 286 "On measures to implement UN Security Council Resolution 1970 of February 26, 2011", which prohibited the supply to Libya of all types of weapons, technical, financial or other assistance related to military activities, as well as any operations related to the financial assets of Gaddafi, his relatives and companions [43]. To assess the scale of Russia's contribution to the de-escalation of the conflict in Libya to the detriment of its own state interests, it is enough to mention that the lost profit of Rosoboronexport alone from the execution of the decree of March 9, 2011 amounted to about 4 billion.dollars [36].

The appeals made from the UN rostrum, as well as the sanctions imposed by Resolution 1970, did not lead to a de-escalation of the civil confrontation in Libya. After the creation of the Libyan opposition on February 27 , 2011 The struggle between supporters and opponents of Gaddafi for control over the country's cities has only intensified as a temporary authority of the Transitional National Council (hereinafter the NTC). The rapid successes of the government forces in this struggle caused serious concern to the United States and its allies, forcing them to intensify their activities on the UN sidelines in order to adopt a resolution that would increase external pressure on the Gaddafi regime and, if possible, authorize direct armed intervention by NATO countries in the civil war in Libya.

To this end, a draft resolution on the situation in Libya, prepared by the United States, Great Britain, France and Lebanon, was submitted to the UN Security Council for consideration. Partially duplicating the main provisions of the previous Resolution, the document provided for the tightening of some previously adopted sanctions: it provided for the inspection of ships and aircraft on which weapons or mercenaries could be delivered to Libya, expanded the list of Libyan civil servants to whom a travel ban was applied, assets of banks under Gaddafi's control, investment offices, the Libyan National Oil Company were frozen. corporations, etc. [34].

Special attention should be paid to paragraph 4 of the aforementioned resolution, which regulated the measures that UN Security Council member States can take to "protect civilians and their places of residence under threat of attack." Despite the fact that this paragraph explicitly excluded "the possibility of the presence of foreign occupation forces in any form on any part of Libyan territory," it nevertheless allowed "taking all necessary measures, despite the provisions of paragraph 9 of resolution 1970 (2011)" to protect civilians, which can also be regarded as an opportunity ignore the ban on the supply of weapons to Libya if they were intended for opposition forces [34]. Among the provisions of the draft resolution was also a clause providing for the direct use of military force against the Gaddafi regime with the UN Security Council sanction an option already successfully implemented by the United States and Great Britain in 2001 for the invasion of Afghanistan (the famous Resolution 1368 E.N. ). It should be particularly noted that this project was fundamentally different from the concept originally proposed by the Council of the League of Arab States on March 12, 2011 and was limited to the introduction of a no-fly zone for Libyan military aviation, as well as the creation of a security zone in places under fire, as a precautionary measure that would ensure the protection of the Libyan population and foreign citizens living in in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.

The discussion of the content of the draft resolution took the participating countries three days, after which the document was put to the vote on March 17, 2011. The categorical objections of the Russian Federation, among other things, led to the removal of the paragraph on armed intervention in Libyan affairs from the resolution, while the provisions on tightening sanctions pressure, as well as the actual permission to supply weapons to the Libyan opposition remained unchanged. It seems that this circumstance has led to a significant difference of opinion among the members of the UN Security Council. Of the fifteen who voted, ten countries supported the adoption of Resolution 1973, while the remaining five, including Russia, abstained from voting.

Explaining such a decision to Russian diplomacy, V. Churkin stressed that the fundamental position of the Russian Federation was and remains the unacceptability of the use of force against Libya. That is why the Russian Federation did not prevent the adoption of Resolution 1973. At the same time, the Russian representative outlined the circumstances that prompted him to abstain from voting on the draft resolution. Firstly, it is the actual ignoring of the questions raised by the Russian Federation and a number of other members of the UN Security Council regarding the means of ensuring a useless zone over Libya, the rules and limits of the use of force; secondly, it is the continuous change by Western countries of the concept of crisis settlement, originally announced by the League of Arab States, as a result of which the provisions of "potentially opening the door for a large-scale military intervention" [41]. Taking into account the assurances of NATO countries regarding the absence of intentions of such an intervention, Churkin stressed that the only way to "reliable security of civilians and long-term stabilization of the situation in Libya is an immediate ceasefire," and not providing armed assistance to Gaddafi's opponents [41]. Concluding his speech, the Russian Permanent Representative prophetically noted: "The responsibility for the inevitable humanitarian consequences of the excessive use of force from the outside in the Libyan situation would fall entirely on the shoulders of those who would resort to such actions. If this happens, not only the civilian population of Libya will be seriously affected, but also the interests of ensuring peace and security in the entire region of North Africa and the Middle East" [41]. Further developments confirmed the correctness of the words of the Russian diplomat.

On the same day, a joint statement was made by the President of the European Council H.Van Rompuy and the First High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the European Union, K. Ashton, that the European Union is ready to implement the adopted Resolution within its mandate and competence. [49]. On March 18, 2011, the White House press service reported that in a telephone conversation between US President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, an agreement was reached "to closely coordinate the next steps and continue to work with Arab and other international partners to ensure the implementation of UN Security Council resolutions on Libya". [3].

The next day, an emergency summit was convened in Paris with the participation of representatives of the United States, the European Union, the League of Arab States (hereinafter referred to as the Arab League) and a number of Arab countries. Following the summit, Sarkozy announced the launch of an operation in Libya within the framework of the UN mandate. The United States soon joined it [11]. The United Kingdom, Italy, Canada, Spain, and a number of Middle Eastern states also took part in the military operation, which was originally called "Dawn of the Odyssey" [44]. Finally, on March 26, at a meeting of the North Atlantic Council, it was decided that NATO would assume overall command of all operations conducted in Libya "within the framework of a UN Security Council resolution" [25]. As a result, since March 31, the operation, called the "United Defender", has already been carried out under the auspices of the North Atlantic Alliance.

The beginning of massive NATO air strikes on Libyan territory caused an extremely negative reaction from the Russian Foreign Ministry. Back on March 19, a statement was released on the situation around Libya by the official representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry, A. K. Lukashevich: "Moscow regretfully accepted this armed operation, undertaken with reference to the hastily adopted UN Security Council resolution 1973." The Russian diplomat emphasized that the indiscriminate use of force leads to the death of civilians and the destruction of civil architecture objects [13]. On March 20, 2011, the Russian Foreign Ministry appealed to the leadership of the North Atlantic Alliance to stop the "indiscriminate use of force in Libya," and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov directly called the operation "United Defender" a Western manipulation of the provisions of Resolution 1973 in his own interests, since in the understanding of Russian diplomacy, the sole purpose of the resolution was to protect civilians by introducing so-called the so-called no-fly zone over Libya, and not authorizing armed intervention in the civil war in that country on the side of the anti-government opposition [39]. Explaining the reason why Russian diplomacy abstained from voting on the draft resolution, Lavrov said that all attempts to "extremely concretize the powers that will be given to countries that ensure the no-fly zone regime" did not find understanding on the part of Western co-authors [39]. E.M. Primakov, who at one time headed the Russian Foreign Ministry and having had enormous experience working with the Middle East region, he gave his argument in favor of the "half-hearted position" of Russian diplomacy regarding Resolution 1973. In his opinion, Russia refrained from blocking this resolution largely because by the time of the vote on it, Gaddafi's troops were preparing to storm Benghazi. If this resolution, formally aimed at ending violence in Libya, had been vetoed by any of the permanent members of the UN, all responsibility for the bloodshed in Benghazi would have been assigned to him [30, p. 391]. It is also important to take into account the presence of a certain, sometimes significant difference of opinion among the Russian political elite when analyzing the position of Russian diplomacy taken in relation to Resolution 1973. Thus, Prime Minister of the Russian Federation V. Putin, speaking on March 21, 2011 to the workers of the Votkinsk plant, called the Resolution "defective and flawed", comparing it with a medieval call for a "crusade, when someone called someone to go to a certain place and liberate something" [31]. Expressing his personal opinion, Putin stated that even a cursory glance at the text of the UN resolution makes it clear that "it allows everyone to take everything, any action against a sovereign state," while the very intervention of Western countries is unacceptable. Recognizing that the Gaddafi regime does not meet the criteria of a democratic state in any parameter, the Russian prime minister reasonably noted that this does not allow anyone to "interfere in an internal political conflict, even armed, from the outside, protecting one of the parties," especially since Libya is "a complex country, based on its relations between tribes, which requires special regulation" [31]. Summarizing his attitude to the Libyan problem, Putin said that he was concerned about the aggressive foreign policy of the United States, which was gaining a steady trend: "during the presidency of Bill Clinton, Belgrade was bombed, during the Bush presidency, Afghanistan and Iraq. Next in line is Libya under the pretext of protecting civilians. Where is the logic and conscience? There is neither one nor the other" [31]. What has been said leaves no doubt as to what the position of Russian diplomacy would have been in relation to Resolution 1973 if Putin had been in charge of the state's foreign policy at that time.

The harsh criticism of the Resolution, which came from the mouth of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, in turn caused a noticeable irritation of Dmitry Medvedev, who held the post of president of the country at that time. Medvedev, who, apparently, still pinned his hopes on the proclaimed at the beginning of 2009. He called on Putin to be careful in his statements describing the events in Libya, since references to the "crusades" could lead to "a clash of civilizations." Justifying the conciliatory position of Russian diplomacy towards the West, the president said that Russia "will not take part in the operation to close the airspace and ... in operations on the ground of Libya," but is ready to become "a mediator in the settlement of the civil conflict in this country, but there is no one to talk to" [18]. It is also necessary to take into account Medvedev's repeated condemnations of Gaddafi for using force against the Libyan opposition. As a result, the position of the abstainer in the voting on Resolution 1973 was the maximum that Russian diplomacy could afford, without contradicting its adopted political line in relation to the Libyan crisis, and without undermining once again the already poorly implemented line of "reset" relations with the United States.

Be that as it may, Resolution 1973, adopted with the tacit disapproval of Russia, was interpreted by Western countries as a UN sanction for large-scale intervention in the civil confrontation in Libya on the side of the opposition. And this circumstance has already met with a much more unanimous negative reaction among the Russian political elite.

So, speaking at a meeting with journalists at the BRICS summit in Sanya (China) On April 14, 2011, Medvedev stressed that the resolution on Libya was incorrectly perceived by "individual states" [19]. In his opinion, the NATO military operation in Libya is not only exceeding the mandate laid down in the resolution, but also represents a "very dangerous trend in international relations" [29]. According to some Russian experts, such rhetoric reflected resentment and irritation at the "deceived" Western partners, which influenced the further development of Moscow's Middle East policy.

Emphasizing that the basis of Russian policy in international affairs has always been the postulate "internal changes are the business of every sovereign state," E.M. Primakov expressed himself extremely harshly: "... Russia and China, who did not veto the resolution on Libya, were deceived: they were told that a resolution was being adopted to close the skies over Libya so that Gaddafi's aircraft would not bomb civilians, but everything resulted in a military operation that directly aimed at overthrowing the Gaddafi regime" [30, p. 391].

Be that as it may, Putin, who not only immediately condemned the very fact of the adoption of the resolution, but also drew significant parallels between the "United Defender" and previous acts of aggression by NATO against sovereign states, showed great foresight and political flair in this regard. Even then, Putin expressed serious concern about the ease with which the collective West made decisions on the use of armed force against political regimes he did not like and, not trusting the fake American rhetoric of the "reset", even then seriously considered the West the main threat to the national security of the Russian Federation.

Meanwhile, Western countries were in a hurry to complete the initiated change of power in Libya and organized a conference in London on March 29 with the participation of 40 states, the main purpose of which was to create a contact group on the future political self-determination of this country. Needless to mention that the politicians who attended the conference did not consider Colonel Gaddafi as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people, and the conduct of Operation United Defender was considered fully justified and even logical. The problem for Western countries was only to identify as soon as possible among the Libyan opposition a certain force that could be recognized as the successor of the Gaddafi regime and establish diplomatic relations with it. This explains the fact that back on March 10, 2011 France was the first European power to recognize the NTC as the legitimate authority in Libya, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy specifically confirmed the powers of this organization. [37, 45].

Representatives of Russia, who took a fundamentally different position from Western countries regarding external interference in the intra-Libyan conflict, were not invited to London to participate in the summit [42]. Nevertheless, the Russian Federation has taken a number of measures aimed at resolving the intra-Libyan conflict by establishing a dialogue between the ruling regime and the opposition in Libya, as well as the international community. Thus, on May 16, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met with the UN Secretary General's Special Envoy for Libya A. Khatib. During the meeting, the main attention was paid to overcoming the humanitarian crisis in the country, as well as organizing a constructive inter-Libyan dialogue. Sergey Lavrov announced Russia's support for the UN initiative on a "humanitarian pause", which implied a cease-fire on the territory of Libya to provide assistance to the population of the country. The head of the Russian Foreign Ministry also expressed readiness to cooperate with all countries interested in putting an end to the armed conflict in Libya [23].

On May 17, Sergey Lavrov held a meeting with the special representative of the Libyan government M. Gaddafi Secretary General of the World Association "Islamic Appeal" M.A. ash-Sherif. The Libyan side declared its readiness to comply with the provisions of UN Security Council Resolution 1973, as well as to consider ways to resolve the internal conflict set out in the roadmap developed by the African Union. This document, which consisted of five main provisions, provided, among other things, for the cessation of hostilities, ensuring the protection of the civilian population of Libya, providing humanitarian assistance to the affected Libyans and foreign citizens who were in Libya, organizing negotiations between the Gaddafi regime and all opposition forces in order to achieve some kind of national consensus, following which the regime will be established."transition period", during which political reforms should be carried out in the country that meet the wishes of the Libyan people [2]. However, al-Sherif called as indispensable conditions for the beginning of a constructive dialogue with the opposition the cessation of the bombing of Libya by NATO forces, as well as the strict implementation of one of the main requirements of Resolution 1973 a ceasefire against civilians including armed rebels.

Russian diplomacy considered the nomination of such conditions by Gaddafi's representative fully justified, since the Kremlin considered the NATO military operation as an action that had long and far gone beyond the UN Security Council mandate to protect civilians. Russia was seriously concerned about the scale of the NATO attacks, which entailed, among other things, the destruction of civilian administration facilities and the death of a large number of Libyan civilians. Expressing serious doubts about the "true political goals of the coalition's military campaign in Libya," A.K. Lukashevich rightly noted on May 20, 2011 that "despite assurances of fidelity to the goals of the decisions of the international community on Libya, in fact, including, as follows from statements made by the US State Department, NATO pursues the goal of regime change in Libya, which no one gave the alliance the authority to do" [15].

It should be noted that earlier a number of high-ranking US officials openly stated the true goals of intervention in the Libyan conflict. Thus, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stressed that the ongoing operation is aimed at creating "favorable opportunities" for the Libyan opposition. In turn, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates bluntly stated that "the regime change in Libya was originally a political goal," and the military campaign itself is aimed at "protecting the opposition from Gaddafi's troops, so that it has increased chances of achieving success in overthrowing the regime" [10].

Confirmation of the realism with which the Kremlin, despite its own accusatory rhetoric against NATO, looked at the development of events in Libya, were the steps of Russian diplomacy to establish direct contacts with the NTC. Already on May 23, Sergey Lavrov met with the PNS emissary A. Shalkam in Moscow. The main attention during the talks was paid to the problem of resolving the civil conflict in Libya. The head of Russian diplomacy stressed the need for an early end to the fratricidal war on the territory of Libya, and also focused on the "inadmissibility of arbitrarily broad interpretation" of UN Security Council resolutions on Libya, hinting at NATO intervention. Lavrov said that Russia will support the initiatives of the African Union and the UN aimed at resolving the conflict in Libya. During the talks, the Russian Foreign Minister repeatedly tried to convince Shalkam that the least bloody way to resolve this conflict is direct negotiations between the Gaddafi regime and the PNS. Lavrov also noted that the Kremlin does not pretend to play a leading role in mediation in Libya, because it considers it more correct to support the African Union as the initiator and developer of the "road map" to resolve the situation in the country.

However, such an initiative did not find understanding on the part of the representative of the Libyan opposition. Assuring Lavrov that the NTC opposes a ground operation in Libya, and also expressing regret for the innocent victims of NATO bombing, Shalkam, nevertheless, firmly stated that any negotiations with Muammar Gaddafi are excluded, since he is "ready to kill the entire Libyan people in order to stay (in power)". "Gaddafi must resign and cease fire," was the summary of the Libyan opposition leader [17]. The resolution of the intra-Libyan civil conflict, according to Shalkam, could be ensured through the implementation of the "road map" developed by the NTC itself. This document, in addition to measures to resolve the conflict, contained proposals for the organization of the Libyan state after Gaddafi's departure: the formation of a transitional government, the convocation of a national assembly, the creation of a new constitution of the country, the organization and conduct of general elections, etc. [24, 17]. Shalkam also noted the importance of Russia's participation in the negotiation process on Libya.

On May 26-27, 2011, the G8 summit was held in the French city of Deauville with the participation of invited representatives of Middle Eastern countries and heads of international organizations. One of the main issues on the agenda was the situation in Libya. In the Deauville Declaration, drawn up at the end of the summit, the Group of Eight in very strong terms demanded that the Libyan regime stop "forceful actions against the civilian population" and spoke in favor of "a political settlement that reflects the will of the Libyan people." As to what this will be, the summit participants were unanimous: "Gaddafi and the Libyan government were unable to fulfill their responsibilities to protect the population of Libya and lost their legitimacy. He has no future in a new, free, democratic Libya. He must leave."[9]

Such a position of the "Big Eight" to a large extent caused the failure of the "road map" of the African Union on Libya: there was no constructive dialogue between the authorities and the opposition. With the support of NATO aviation, the rebel troops were able to develop an offensive and entered Tripoli on August 21. Within a week, the capital of the state was taken under control by the forces of the NTC.

Recognizing the fait accompli, on September 1, 2011, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued an official statement in which it recognized the NTC as the current government in Libya, confirmed all previously concluded agreements and mutual obligations with this country, and also noted "the reform program proclaimed by him [the NTC], which provides for the development of a new constitution, holding general elections and the formation of governments" [12]. This decision reflected the Russian leadership's awareness of the strategic importance of continuing fruitful cooperation between the countries.

Meanwhile, the events in Libya were nearing their dramatic finale. On October 20, while trying to leave the besieged rebel city of Sirte, the Libyan leader's convoy was shelled by NATO aircraft, after which the wounded M. Gaddafi and his son Mutassim were captured and killed. Thus, the main obstacle on the way to the regime change desired by the West in Libya has been eliminated. At the October 22 meeting of the North Atlantic Council, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that Operation United Defender would finally end on October 31 in coordination with the new Libyan authorities [27].

The reaction of Western countries to the news of Gaddafi's death was predictable. For example, French Foreign Minister A. Juppe said that for Libya it marks the end of the period of dictatorship and the beginning of a new era in the country. EU President H.Van Rompuy and the head of the European Commission, J. M. Barroso, noted the death of the Libyan leader as the end of the era of despotism and the opportunity for Libyans to begin building a new democratic state [32]. The voice of Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte stood out somewhat from the general enthusiastic chorus in the West. Noting the positive effect of the very fact of Gaddafi's capture by the rebels, Rutte said that he did not consider his death to be good news: "it is the International Court of Justice, the Hague Tribunal, that should decide his fate and judge him."

Russia reacted differently to this news. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, upon receiving the first news of Gaddafi's capture, regarded them positively, expressing the hope that this would put an end to the bloodshed in Libya and contribute to the establishment of civil peace and harmony in the country, but noted that the fate of the former leader of the state "should be decided by the Libyan people" [20]. The reaction of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was more negative. After the video footage of the massacre of the "leader of the revolution" flew around the world media, he expressed extreme indignation at the broadcast of such a video: "On the screens of the whole world they showed how he was being killed, all in blood. Is this democracy?". Putin directly pointed out the involvement of the NATO armed forces in the liquidation of the leader of a sovereign state "without trial" [1]. The general negative assessment by the Russian political elite of the violation of the principle of state sovereignty was largely reinforced by the scale of financial losses from the termination of very profitable economic contacts with Libya. The new leadership of this country immediately made it clear that it did not consider it possible to confirm the contracts of Russian companies, primarily because of the position taken by the Russian Federation in the UN: "Is it normal if they watched what was happening, but were not concerned about it? I would not even say that the phrase "not worried" would be a correct definition," said the Prime Minister of the Libyan National People's Congress Abdelrahim alKib [35]. The position of the politician who came to power with the direct military support of the West was quite understandable: the United States and its allies spent money on a coup in Libya not so that Russian companies would continue to earn money in this country.

Thus, analyzing the evolution of the position of Russian diplomacy regarding the intervention of Western countries in the civil conflict in Libya in 2011, we can note the following. The initial reaction of the Russian Foreign Ministry to the anti-government protests in Libya was of a detached nature and was determined by the norms of international humanitarian law: Moscow's main concern concerned the spread of violence against the civilian population of the country, the death of civilians and the threat of further escalation of the armed confrontation. However, as the countries of the collective West began to define their position more and more clearly, justifying the expediency of armed intervention in the intra-Libyan conflict in order to overthrow the regime of Colonel Gaddafi, Russia's position has undergone significant changes. The Kremlin did not share the point of view of Washington, Brussels and London that such intervention is the best means of establishing peace and civil accord in Libya. It was partly for these reasons that the position of Russian diplomacy was determined when voting on Resolution 1973, which gave a mandate to intervene in the Libyan conflict to Western countries, which took advantage of it as soon as possible, repeatedly exceeding any powers provided for in the resolution and using the UN sanction not to separate the conflicting parties, but to realize their original goal.

The beginning of the United Defender air operation, in our opinion, marked the final departure of Russian diplomacy from the "contemplative" stage of Middle East policy. The NATO intervention has provoked sharp criticism in Moscow not only because of the brazen violation and self-serving interpretation of the UN mandate by the West, but also fears that a similar scenario, which has already been successfully used several times before, will be implemented in relation to other Middle Eastern countries, which could further damage the national interests of the Russian Federation in this region. Subsequent events have shown that the initial neutrality and restraint, as well as the subsequent half-heartedness of the Russian position in voting on Resolution 1973, not only significantly weakened Moscow's position in Libya and in the Arab world as a whole, but also resulted in a general deterioration of international security in the Middle East. It seems that it was the Libyan crisis that became the starting point for the formation of a new political course of the Russian Federation regarding attempts of external interference in the internal affairs of the countries of the Middle East region. A striking example of this is the position of the Russian Federation regarding anti-government protests in Syria.



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