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article imageRussia demands ceasefire in Libya, allies disorganized

By Michael Krebs     Mar 23, 2011 in World
As the US-led coalition continued to strike targets across Libya, and the future allied leadership of the military operation did not appear clear, Russia stepped up its demands for an immediate ceasefire.
The US-led allied military incursion into Libya's civil war hit a significant snag on Tuesday after Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov demanded an immediate ceasefire in Libya, citing an alarming increase in civilian casualties that Russia believes are due to allied munitions.
The Russian criticism was levied during a visit in Moscow by US Defense Secretary Robert Gates, the National Journal reported.
Gates characterized the Russian position as "outright lies." However, Reuters reported that the UN may discuss the ceasefire challenge with Russian representatives.
Meanwhile, a significant lack of unity and organization emerged on Tuesday among the allied coalition on the question of who will take over the allied leadership once the US exits from that role. NATO held talks on the matter, but an outcome was not reached. Italy and Norway have tethered their further participation in air strikes to the decision on who will lead the coalition.
"This command-and-control business is complicated, and we haven’t done something like this kind of on-the-fly before,” Gates said at a press conference in Moscow, according to Bloomberg. “It’s not surprising to me that it would take a few days to get it all sorted out.”
Colonel Gaddafi remains in power and his military continued to fight against targets in eastern portions of LIbya, according to a report in The Independent.
The conflict in LIbya is not a war, at least not in the eyes of French Prime Minister Francois Fillon. In a parliamentary debate on Tuesday, France 24 quoted Fillon as saying: "We are not at war with Libya, we are protecting the civilian population.”
Fillon might want to share his position on the matter with the Russians.
"Unfortunately, recent developments in the country demonstrate that it is experiencing real hostilities, destroying civilian facilities, and the killing of civilians," Serdyukov said, according to the National Journal. "This shouldn't have been let to happen and we informed our U.S. counterparts of our opposition."
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