Global Reaction

Bin Laden's killing benefits Russia - Medvedev

Updated: 2011-05-12 08:51
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* Says al Qaeda sending its emissaries to Russia

* Moscow is fighting growing Islamist insurgency

* US killing of bin Laden meets international law-Lavrov

MOSCOW - President Dmitry Medvedev said on Wednesday the killing of Osama bin Laden would benefit Russia as it fights an Islamist insurgency along its southern flank.

"The liquidation of terrorists, even on the level of ... bin Laden, has a direct relationship to the level of security on the territory of our state," he said, in his first public comments on the al Qaeda leader's killing during a US raid in Pakistan.

"It is no secret that the well known terrorist network al Qaeda has regularly sent and continues to send its emissaries to the territory of our state," Medvedev told his Security Council in televised remarks, a day before talks with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari in Moscow.

Russia's government faces a growing insurgency in mostly Muslim provinces of the North Caucasus after two wars since 1994 involving federal forces and separatist rebels in Chechnya.

Russian authorities say foreign representatives of al Qaeda have been involved in attacks in the North Caucasus and elsewhere in Russia. Insurgents have claimed responsibility for strikes such as a suicide bombing that killed 37 people at Moscow's busiest airport in January.

In a statement issued hours after US President Barack Obama announced bin Laden's killing on May 2, the Kremlin called it a "serious success" and said "revenge is inescapable for all terrorists." But neither Medvedev nor Prime Minister Vladimir Putin had spoken publicly about it until Wednesday.

Putin, president from 2000 to 2008, was one of the first foreign leaders to call then US president George W. Bush after the September 11, 2001 attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people.

Russia backed the US-led campaign against the Afghan Taliban, who harboured bin Laden.

With Medvedev and Obama working to improve ties strained by Russia's brief 2008 war in the former Soviet republic of Georgia, Moscow has provided the United States and NATO with increased access to supply lines for the war against insurgents in Afghanistan.

The Kremlin said the agenda for Zardari's talks with Medvedev on Thursday would involve coordinating efforts to support peace and stability in the region, including the fight against terrorism, the illegal drug trade and organised crime.

Pakistan has welcomed bin Laden's death as a step in the fight against militancy but also said the raid carried out by US special forces in the town of Abbottabad violated its sovereignty.

Russia has called on the West not to interfere in what it says are the internal affairs of sovereign states, most recently during the wave of unrest in North Africa and the Middle East.

Putin likened the March UN Security Council resolution authorising military intervention in Libya to a "medieval call for crusades" and has said the West has no right to kill Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the operation by the US special forces to kill bin Laden did not contradict international law.

"Those who carried out this operation had a firm legal basis in terms of (a state's) right for self-defence, according to the United Nations Statute," state-owned RIA news agency quoted Lavrov as telling the Moskovskiye Novosti broadsheet, in an interview to be published on Thursday.