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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Putin Says Terrorists Got It Wrong

ReutersNationalist teenagers burning a U.S. flag near the White House to protest the strikes.
Once again coming down firmly on the side of the West, President Vladimir Putin said Monday that the terrorists in Afghanistan miscalculated when provoking the U.S. strikes.

"They counted on modern civilization becoming flabby, sluggish, and losing its capacity for resistance," Putin said at a meeting with his key ministers. The terrorists "did not expect such a unity of humanity before a common enemy."

The Sept. 11 attack led to a "coming of age for mankind," Putin said.

Osama bin Laden and the Taliban expected the leading powers to split over how to respond to the attack on the United States, Putin said. Instead, they formed a broad anti-terrorist coalition.

"If in the past they [terrorists] were able to maneuver among different centers of power, they will not be able to do it this time around," he said in a televised address.

In past years, U.S. military strikes for the most part have been perceived in Russia as unprovoked and intended largely to affirm U.S. domination in the world, at the price of harming innocent civilians.

Both in Iraq and in Yugoslavia, the United States was attacking regimes that were, to different degrees, seen as Russia's allies. This time around, the situation is radically different because of a merging of interests between Washington and Moscow, which has fought against radical Islam-connected terrorism in the North Caucasus and whose allies in Central Asia are under direct threat from the Taliban.

Even the Communists' predictably negative reaction to the strikes was toned down. "The problem of fighting terrorists cannot be solved with the help of bombings," party No. 2 Valentin Kuptsov said Monday in comments reported by Interfax.

While some politicians, such as the traditionally pro-Western Union of Right Forces, made their support for the U.S. strikes conditional on the prevention of the deaths of civilians, Putin's support was unconditional.

"I have no doubt that the U.S. leadership and President Bush will do their best so that the peaceful population does not suffer, and they are already doing their best," Putin said.

He stressed that the terms of Russian participation remain unchanged. Putin previously said that Russia will supply additional weapons to the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance and provide airspace for U.S. "humanitarian" cargoes, but will not participate in military action.

Such an approach was called a "golden mean" Monday by the chairman of the State Duma's foreign relations committee, Dmitry Rogozin. The Duma is to discuss the situation around Afghanistan on Wednesday.

Several pro-Kremlin factions issued a statement calling U.S. strikes "adequate" and Russia's degree of participation "fully corresponding to its national interests."