Added by Pat Williams on December 15, 2011
The Russian prime minister accused the United States of masterminding the murder of Col Muammar Gaddafi as he mounted an extraordinary personal attack on Senator John McCain in his lengthy tv question-and-answer session.
In his strongest outburst against America in years, Vladimir Putin alleged that the Libyan dictator’s death had been meticulously planned and executed by Washington.
“Who did this?” he asked rhetorically when discussing Col Gaddafi’s death during a televised question and answer session designed to smooth his return to the Russian presidency next year.
“Drones, including American ones. They attacked his column. Then using the radio – through the special forces, who should not have been there – they brought in the so-called opposition and fighters, and killed him without court or investigation.”
The Pentagon dismissed Mr Putin’s claim out of hand.
“The assertion that US special operations forces were involved in the killing of Col Gaddafi is ludicrous,” Capt John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, said.
“We did not have American boots on the ground in the Libya operation. All our support was done through the air and on the seas.” A former KGB spy famous for his hostility towards Washington, Mr Putin made it clear he was generally opposed to US foreign policy. “People are tired of the dictates of one country.”
He saved his most vicious comments for Mr McCain, however after clearly taking huge offence at a tweet composed by the politician which read “Dear Vlad, The Arab Spring is coming to a neighbourhood near you.”
Casting any pretence of diplomacy aside, Mr Putin suggested that Mr McCain was a crazed military veteran.
“Mr McCain fought in Vietnam,” said Mr Putin. “I think that he has enough blood of peaceful citizens on his hands. It must be impossible for him to live without these disgusting scenes anymore. Mr McCain was captured and they kept him not just in prison, but in a pit for several years,” he continued. “Anyone (in his place) would go nuts.” Mr McCain responded yesterday with another tweet: “Dear Vlad, is it something I said?”
Mr Putin earlier this month accused Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, of orchestrating protests on Russian streets against the results of a disputed parliamentary election, a charge Mrs Clinton denied.
Yesterday, Mr Putin said he believed Western hostility towards Russia stemmed from a fear of its Cold War-era nuclear arsenal. “We are conducting our own independent foreign policy. And it clearly bothers someone.”