Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has criticized
the United States, NATO, and the UN for this attack on Libya, calling the UN resolution "reminiscent of a medieval call for a crusade." Russian President Dmitry Medvedev came out a few hours later publicly telling Putin to be more careful with his words and defending the UN resolution and the attempts to stop Gaddafi's "crimes against his own people." Some are pointing at it as a rare clash in foreign policy that signifies a growing gap between Putin and his hand-picked successor. This may be true, but we should be careful to just assume that the two are really opposed to each other on all of these issues.
The Russians are excellent chess players
; in fact, learning chess is as much a part of their school curriculum as mathematics. In chess you need to keep all potential points of attack covered, even if it appears to your opponents as if you're conflictingly positioning your pieces around the board. By issuing both statements on the Libyan situation, Putin's regime is at once maintaining its popularity with the masses in Russia and stopping any rift with the West over a very touchy issue like this. Taking into account the Russian invasion of Georgia and problems in Chechnya, they want to say that this sort of meddling in another nation's internal affairs is wrong; however, they also want to make the world think that they've taken great strides in the realm of human rights and want to seem to support stopping a madman from slaughtering his citizens as they cry out for freedom. Be careful before taking their public disagreement as real rift between the two; they could just be playing a very good game of chess with their opponents.