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Lavrov calls on Nato to stop strikes

Posted by seumasach on March 28, 2011

Morning Star

28th March, 2011



Russia condemned Western air strikes on Libyan government forces today, calling them meddling in a civil war and in breach of the UN’s no-fly-zone resolution.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Resolution 1973 – passed by the UN security council on March 17 – had the sole aim of protecting Libyan civilians.

“And yet there are reports – and nobody denies them – of coalition strikes on columns of Gadaffi’s forces, reports about support for actions by the armed insurgents,” Mr Lavrov said. “There are clear contradictions here.

“Intervention by the coalition in what is essentially an internal civil war is not sanctioned by the UN security council resolution.”

Russia could have vetoed the resolution but chose to abstain. The document authorises “all necessary measures to enforce compliance” with the no-fly zones.

But the country’s leaders have expressed concern that the resolution gave Nato forces too much leeway and that it was causing civilian deaths.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said it was like “medieval calls for crusades.”

Mr Lavrov today reiterated Russia’s concern about reports of civilian casualties, which he said had not yet been confirmed, and indicated that Russia wanted UN secretary-general Ban Ki Moon’s special envoy Abdelilah al-Khatib to look into them.

Mr Lavrov did not say whether Russia would try to rein in Nato aggression.

But his remarks, made just hours before US President Barack Obama was expected to set out the mission’s purpose and scope in a speech, suggested Russia could step up criticism if Nato takes further steps beyond its mandate.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said last week that the resolution was clear and that any extra action “is illegal.”

Last Wednesday the Russian State Duma, the lower house of parliament, called for “an immediate ceasefire and (to) stop deaths and suffering among civilians.”

Libyan rebels emboldened by the air strikes have pushed west along the Mediterranean coast in recent days to retake a series of towns from the government.


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