A gold star for Vladimir Putin, for providing us with one of the most extraordinary interventions of the day. While we knew that the Russian Prime Minister is opposed to military action in Libya
— and also that he is no natural friend of the West — it is still striking to hear him talk as he does in the video above. "It reminds me," he says of the UN resolution at
hand, "of the medieval call for a crusade." Ever the pacifist, he then goes on to rail against the "steady trend in US policy" to get involved in conflicts abroad.
Meanwhile, our government is doing its part to assure Parliament, and the public, that their policy on Libya is more multilateral than medieval. Their note on the legal basis for action in Libya
has just been published. Here it is in full:
"Following the Prime Minister’s statement to the House on 18 March, this note sets out the Government’s view on the legal basis for the deployment of UK forces and military assets
Under the Charter of the United Nations the Security Council is the organ conferred with primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. In carrying out its
duties the Security Council acts on behalf of Member States of the United Nations, who agree to accept and carry out its decisions in accordance with the Charter. Among the specific powers
granted to the Security Council are those provided in Chapter VII of the Charter which is concerned with action with respect to threats to the peace, breaches of the peace and acts of
Security Council resolution 1973 (2011) of 17 March 2011 is annexed to this document.
In this resolution the Security Council has determined that the situation in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya constitutes a threat to international peace and security. The Security Council has
adopted the resolution as a measure to maintain or restore international peace and security under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, which provides for such action by air, sea and land
forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security.
Provision for a No Fly Zone is provided for by operative paragraphs 6 to 12 of the resolution. Operative paragraph 8 authorises Member States that have notified the UN Secretary-General and
the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, acting nationally or through regional organisations or arrangements to take all necessary measures to enforce the ban on flights established
by operative paragraph 6.
Operative paragraph 4 of the resolution also authorises Member States making the notifications so provided, and acting in co-operation with the UN Secretary-General, to take all necessary
measures to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, including Benghazi, while excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on
any part of Libyan territory.
Operative paragraph 13 of the resolution, in substituting a replacement operative paragraph 11 in resolution 1970 (2011), further authorises Member States to use all measures commensurate
to the specific circumstances to carry out inspections aimed at the enforcement of the arms embargo established by that earlier resolution.
The Attorney General has been consulted and Her Majesty’s Government is satisfied that this Chapter VII authorisation to use all necessary measures provides a clear and unequivocal
legal basis for deployment of UK forces and military assets to achieve the resolution’s objectives."
UPDATE: It gets better. Dmitry Medvedev, Russia’s President, is reported to have labelled Putin’s attack as "unacceptable".