A reader writes:
Regarding your post highlighting Joe Biden's apparent absence the Libya decision, it seems likely the VP actually facilitated UN Security Council Resolution 1973 on Libya. Keating neglected to mention Biden's mid-March trip to Russia where he met with Medvedev and Putin and discussed Libya. Russia's veto on any strongly worded resolution seemed all but certain before the visit. Earlier, Russian foreign policy officials had denounced the idea of a no-fly zone over Libya as "superfluous" and "a serious interference into [Libyan] domestic affairs." Yet Russia did not oppose UNSCR 1973. Biden's trip was likely a crucial factor in Russia's abstention.
Medvedev even indicated "he considered the UN resolution to be correct, adding if he did not believe the UN-mandated action was the proper way of handling the Libyan crisis he would have ordered the Foreign Ministry to oppose the measure when it was voted on in the Security Council." That is an unprecedented shift in Russian foreign policy. Why the change of heart?
One of the main items on Biden's agenda was Russian accession to the WTO, which our ally Georgia has heretofore blocked. Russian experts believe US pressure on Georgia could convince Tblisi to drop its objections to Moscow's WTO membership. It appears, then, Biden linked Washington's support for Moscow's WTO application to Moscow's tacit approval of the Libya resolution. Hence the abstention. So Biden may have played a bigger part in the story after all.