Copenhagen: Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin sharply criticised the Western coalition attacking Libya on Tuesday, saying it had neither a right nor a mandate to kill Muammar Gaddafi.
Putin said the coalition had gone beyond the bounds of a UN Security Council resolution authorising intervention to protect civilians and suggested Gaddafi's actions did not justify foreign interference, let alone attempts to remove him.
"They said they didn't want to kill Gaddafi. Now some officials say, yes, we are trying to kill Gaddafi," Putin said on a visit to Denmark. "Who permitted this, was there any trial? Who took on the right to execute this man, no matter who he is?"
Putin spoke as Britain and the United States discussed stepping up military pressure on Gaddafi, who has survived more than a month of NATO air strikes.
"The country's whole infrastructure is being destroyed, and in essence one of the warring sides is attacking under the cover of aircraft," Putin said at a news conference after talks with his Danish counterpart, Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen.
"When the entire so-called civilised community falls upon a small country with all its might, destroys infrastructure created over generations -- I don't know, is that good or not?" Putin said. "I don't like it."
Shortly after Putin spoke, Libyan state news agency Jana said Libya had urged Russia to call an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss "Western aggression”.
In Moscow, Russia's Foreign Ministry said nobody was available to comment on the report.
Putin called Gaddafi's Libya "crooked" but said that did not justify intervention.
"Look at a map of this region of the world. ... What, is it full of Danish-style democracies? No, there are monarchical states all around. This overall answers to the mentality of the population and the practices that developed there," he said.
"Is there a lack of crooked regimes in the world? What, are we going to intervene in internal conflicts everywhere? Look at Africa, what's been happening in Somalia for many years. ... Are we going to bomb everywhere and conduct missile strikes?"
Putin has often criticised foreign intervention in the affairs of sovereign states.
He said the resolution authorising intervention in Libya was "a call for everyone to come and do whatever they want”.
"Why strike palaces? What, are they exterminating mice this way?" Putin said. "Surely people are being killed in these strikes -- Gaddafi is not there, he slipped away long ago, but peaceful civilians are dying."
Permanent UN Security Council member Russia abstained from the UN vote last month. Putin likened it at the time to "a medieval call for crusades”, a remark that suggested he might have ordered a veto had he still been president.
Russia's President is head of state and sets foreign policy, while the Prime Minister manages the economy. Putin steered his protégé Dmitry Medvedev into the presidency in 2008 but has said he may try to return to the Kremlin himself in a 2012 vote.
The commander of the NATO operation, Canadian Lt Gen Charles Bouchard, said the attack on a building in Gaddafi's compound on Monday was on communications facilities and the Libyan leader was not there at the time.
"This is a military compound, in which there are various houses and residences, but also technical command and control nodes throughout," Bouchard told reporters in Brussels.
"He was not in the room but the point is command and control, not individuals," he said.
First Published: Wednesday, April 27, 2011, 10:24