Vladimir Putin points to US drones, special forces in killing of Gaddafi


Supporters of Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin rally near the Kremlin wall in central Moscow on Dec. 12, 2011. Election fraud claims reported by Russia's opposition have triggered Russia's biggest mass protests in at least a decade.


Andrey Smirnov

Vladimir Putin has accused the US of involvement in the death of Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi.

“Drones, including American ones. They attacked his column," Putin said during an annual televised phone-in with Russians, reported by The Daily Telegraph.

"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."

"They showed to the whole world how he [Gaddafi] was killed,” Putin reportedly added. "There was blood all over. Is that what they call a democracy?"

According to CNN

US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta acknowledged the day after Gaddafi's death that "it was a US drone combined with the other NATO planes that fired on the convoy" in which the Libyan leader was traveling outside the city of Sirte. But the Pentagon has denied that any U.S. forces were on the ground in a combat role in Libya.

The Russian prime minister was responding Thursday to a criticism by US Senator John McCain on his Twitter account.

After Putin's United Russia party was returned to power in last week's parliamentary elections amid allegations of vote fraud, McCain tweeted that the Arab Spring was coming to Russia.

The onetime Republican presidential candidate wrote: "Dear Vlad, The Arab Spring is coming to a neighborhood near you," according to the LA Times.

Putin — who is planning to run for a third presidential term next year — said the mass rallies last Saturday protesting the alleged vote fraud were organized on orders from the West to destabilize the country.

"There are some people in the opposition groups who have Russian passports but work for the interests of foreign states," Putin said, adding it was wrong for people to "allow themselves to be sucked into schemes to destabilize society."

The Pentagon, meantime, dismissed Putin's claims outright.

"The assertion that US special operations forces were involved in the killing of Colonel Gaddafi is ludicrous," The Telegraph quoted Capt. John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, as saying.

"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."