Russia says arming Libyan rebels violates U.N. vote

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 30, 2011 10:19 AM
Russia says arming Libyan rebels violates U.N. vote

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday that arming Libyan rebels was a "crude violation" of a U.N. Security Council resolution that imposed a comprehensive arms embargo on Libya from February.

"We asked our French colleagues today whether reports that weapons from France were delivered to Libyan rebels correspond with reality," Lavrov told journalists.

"If this is confirmed, it is a very crude violation of U.N. Security Council resolution 1970, which was adopted by consensus."

France became the first NATO country on Wednesday to openly acknowledge arming rebels seeking to topple Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who has so far resisted a three-month NATO bombing campaign.

It defended the move on Thursday as a necessary measure to protect civilians, arguing that a subsequent March U.N. resolution authorized the weapons airlifts, despite warnings from Security Council members Russia and China.

Lavrov's comments came a day before he was expected to host French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe in Moscow.

Russia, which abstained from the March vote, has voiced concern over civilian casualties and said the alliance had no legal basis for military actions targeted at ousting Gaddafi.

(Reporting by Maria Tsvetkova; Writing Alissa de Carbonnel; editing by Thomas Grove)

(Edited by Richard Meares)