Asian reactions to Gaddafi’s death

Libyan leader Colonel Moammar Gaddafi’s death last Thursday sparked heated reactions from major powers in Asia. In this post, we highlight the viewpoints coming out of Russia, China and India, many of which are highly critical of NATO’s role in Libya.


Compared to China and India, reactions from Russia have been the most critical and extensive, including the official response. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said NATO actions preceding the death of Gaddafi should be scrutinized for their compliance with international law, and emphasized “they should not have killed him.”

Commentaries in the press have likewise been negative. A round-up of expert reactions was reported by the Moscow News:

  • Andrei Fedvashin, RIA Novosti political analyst: “No one gave NATO sanction to hunt Gaddafi and bomb the suburbs of Sirte under siege.”
  • Georgy Mirsky of the World Economy and International Relations Institute, however, thought that Russia was to some extent complicit in NATO’s actions in Libya: “If in March, Moscow did not abstain in the UN Security Council vote [that authorized the no-fly zone], then the colonel would still be in power now.”

Views on Libya’s future appear mixed:

  • Sergey Markov, director of the Institute for Political Research: the situation in Libya “will be more or less peaceful.” He expressed confidence that the new Libyan government would be able to unify the different tribal factions, including those who were dominant during Gaddafi’s rule.
  • Evgeny Minchenko, director of the International Institute for Political Enterprise, was less optimistic: “low-intensity civil war…is likely to continue for quite a while, same as…in Iraq and…the AfPak region.” Read more of this post

Libyan intervention and implications for U.S. relations with China, Russia and India

In previous posts, this blog reviewed the foreign policy debates in China, Russia and India, and examined how these three countries have reacted to the military intervention in Libya.

Continuing this discussion, the latest edition of the Sigur Center Policy Brief  looks at the implications for US foreign policy in managing its relations with these major powers:


The realism and pragmatism in Chinese foreign policymaking means that the Chinese leadership will continue its efforts toward maintaining a stable relationship with the U.S. However, the US should not have any illusions of a G-2 partnership with China, says David Shambaugh. Furthermore, China is simultaneously playing a “global competition game” on strategic, diplomatic and commercial fronts. This is evident in the Middle East, where China’s economic presence is growing. Thus, as the US responds to and manages the potentially sweeping changes in the region, it will be important to consider how China’s management of its relations there will affect the US role in the medium to long term.


With Russia, its mixed reactions to Moscow’s stance on Libya reflect the continued sense of uncertainty about Russia’s role in global politics. This serves as a reminder that the “re-set” in US-Russia relations cannot be taken for granted, despite important milestones such as the recent signing of the new START treaty. It is too early to say whether the intellectual orientation of Russia’s foreign policymaking might evolve, but its domestic vulnerability, coupled with possible changes in its external geopolitical environment, means that Russia will continue to behave as a “price taker, not a price maker” in international politics, according to Andrew Kuchins.


India perhaps offers the best chance of substantive cooperation in the region, despite its current reluctance or even aversion to such an idea. The growing influence of pragmatists in the country’s intellectual landscape means that there will be increasing support for strengthening relations with the United States, despite the inclination of traditional nationalists to avoid alliance politics. India’s economic interests in the Gulf states make a practical case for a more active Indian foreign policy in the region, which could complement its strategic preference for hedging against China’s influence. US policymakers should consider whether this opens avenues for substantive cooperation with India in the critical Middle East region.

Military intervention in Libya: perspectives from China, Russia and India

China, Russia and India abstained on UN Security Council Resolution No. 1973, which authorized a no-fly zone over Libya and the use of force to protect civilians. As military intervention in Libya enters its sixth day, what are the Chinese, Russian and Indian views and reactions?


Officially-sanctioned views, as reflected in the People’s Daily, lambast the military intervention in Libya and cast it as a Western initiative.

  • How humanitarian is Western intervention in Libya?” asks one op-ed. “This so-called ‘humanitarianism’ is actually just the first step toward overthrowing of another country’s political power.”
  • They point to Libya’s oil resources as the underlying motive. “The military involvement of Western coalitions in the Middle East is closely associated with oil reserves and strategic interests. Iraq was invaded for oil. Now it is Libya.
  • It is noteworthy that the criticism is generally directed at the “West,” and not specifically at the United States, since “the U.S. withdrew to the second line this time.” The U.S. position is understood to be “a compromise between the realism of the secretary of defense and the idealism of the secretary of state.” Read more of this post
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