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Russia, in swift about-face, recognizes Libyan rebels

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Russia has been one of the loudest critics of NATO's air war against forces loyal to Muammar Qaddafi over the past six months.

But on Thursday Moscow suddenly pushed the mute button on its criticism, joined a Paris conference of some 60 nations aimed at consolidating support for the victorious anti-Qaddafi insurgents, and surprised many by extending immediate official recognition to Libya's rebels as the country's only legitimate government.

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