Russia betrayed its interests in Libya: ex-ambassador
By refusing to veto the UN resolution allowing military action against Libya and siding with the West, Russia has betrayed its interests and lost tens of billions of euros, Russia's ex-envoy in Tripoli said on Thursday.
Vladimir Chamov was dramatically fired from the post of Russia's ambassador to Libya before the UN Security Council last week gave the green light to a military operation against Libya.
His comments in an interview with the Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper appear to reveal a split in the Russian elite between those who believe Russia should cooperate with the West and those who want it to follow traditional interests.
Chamov revealed his dismissal came after he sent a telegram to President Dmitry Medvedev saying that siding with the West against Libya would essentially amount to betrayal of Moscow's interests in the country.
"I wrote a telegram in which I stressed that I represent Russia's interests in Libya," Chamov said.
"Our countries had in recent times sought closer cooperation and it was not in Russia's interests to lose such a partner.
"Russian companies had agreed very lucrative long-term contracts worth tens of billions of euros which they could lose and have already lost. Which in a sense can be considered the betrayal of Russia's interests."
On Medvedev's orders, Russia abstained from the UN resolution last week, refusing to use its veto which would have blocked its passage.
Chamov, a veteran diplomat who also worked in Iraq, was dismissed for "incompetence" and failing to adequately represent his country's interests in Libya and stripped of all honours, Moskovsky Komsomolets said.
Chamov said he had frequent meetings with Libya's leader Moamer Kadhafi in the run-up to the military campaign calling him "absolutely adequate".
"When we saw each other last time, he was calm and understood what he was doing," he said, adding it was wrong to claim that Kadhafi had oppressed his people because Libyans had had access to interest-free loans, cheap petrol, food and cars.
Chamov said Russia alone would have been unable to prevent the war but it could have joined forces with countries like China and India. He added that Kadhafi had invited him along with Chinese and Indian ambassadors to clarify their countries' positions a week ago.
© 2011 AFP