Russia hails Bin Laden killing, vows to boost cooperation

2nd May 2011, Comments 0 comments

Russia on Monday hailed the death of Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden as a great success and vowed to step up its cooperation with the United States in the fight against terror.

"The Kremlin welcomes the serious success the United States achieved in the war against international terrorism," President Dmitry Medvedev's press service said in a statement.

"Retribution inevitably reaches all terrorists," it added in comments that echoed those made by US President Barack Obama when he announced the Al-Qaeda leader's death in a White House address.

Russia's then-president Vladimir Putin was the first leader to telephone his US counterpart George W. Bush and express sympathies over the September 11, 2001 terror attack masterminded by Bin Laden.

Putin at the time voiced Russia's willingness to expand international cooperation with the United States and compared the attack to a string of Russian apartment block bombings that killed nearly 300 people in 1999.

Russia blamed those attacks on North Caucasus Islamist extremists with links to international terror networks such as Al-Qaeda.

And the Kremlin drew that parallel again on Monday as it voiced a desire to work more closely with the United States in its fight against terror networks.

"Russia was one of the first countries to face the threat posed by global terrorism," the Kremlin said in reference to the 1999 bombings. "It has a first-hand account of what Al-Qaeda is," the statement said.

"Only a joint and united fight against global terrorism can achieve substantial results. Russia is ready to step up this type of cooperation," the Kremlin statement said.

Putin's phone call began a years-long spell in which Moscow enjoyed warmer relations with Washington following a bitter fallout over the 1999 NATO-led offensive on Russia's traditional ally Serbia.

But relations between the two steadily deteriorated toward the end of Putin's presidency and reached a new low when Russia entered a five-day war with strong US regional supporter Georgia in August 2008.

Obama has since sought to mend ties with Putin's successor Medvedev and the two sides last year finally managed to ratify a new nuclear disarmament agreement that had been under negotiation for nearly 10 years.

But the Kremlin's congratulations on Monday came amid a new chill in relations that entered with the international campaign in Libya.

Russia refused to back the action at the United Nations and has since issued an almost daily series of condemnations of an operation that it says has no justification in international law.

This resentment carried over to Russia's decision to vote against a United Nations statement lashing the brutal government assault on civilians in Syria -- a move that underscored Moscow's non-intervention approach.

Yet a top Russian lawmaker said Monday that the elimination of Bin Laden in Pakistan was different.

"This is not a case of vigilante justice -- something that we sometimes see in international practice," said the lower house of parliament's foreign affairs committee chief Konstantin Kosachev.

"We have reasons to believe that Osama bin Laden was linked to a series of acts of terror in our country as well," Interfax quoted Kosachev as saying.

But another top pro-Kremlin lawmaker warned that Bin Laden's death may do little to fight terror while potentially leading to deadly reprisal attacks.

"He may be the biggest terrorist, but his elimination means very little on its own," Interafax quoted upper house foreign affairs committee leader Mikhail Margelov as saying.

"There may be reprisals for Bin Laden," Margelov cautioned.

© 2011 AFP

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