NATO’s interference in the conflict between the Muammar Gaddafi regime supporters and the Libyan opposition has increased the number of casualties among civilians, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said.
“Members of the international community, first of all our Western partners, have chosen the path of supporting one of the sides in the civil war – probably the party that represented the Libyan people’s legitimate aspirations, but this still increased the number of casualties among the civilianpopulation,” Lavrov said, cites Interfax. Russia’s top diplomat was speaking at a media conference in Moscow after talks with his Djiboutian counterpart.
Lavrov pointed out that the UN resolutions on Libya called for measures that would protect civilians in the conflict-torn North African state, “but the result was slightly different, to say the least,” he added.
The minister stressed that Moscow does not accept “invocations” heard from the alliance’s headquarters in Brussels that NATO’s intervention saved “a countless number of lives.”
“This is wishful thinking,” Lavrov said.
A day earlier, NATO’s Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen stated that in Libya “we and our allies have been remarkably successful. We have saved countless lives and helped the Libyan people take their destiny into their own hands,” reported AP.
Speaking at the media conference on Thursday, the Russian Foreign Minister underlined that violence that the Libyan authorities used against civilians was unacceptable. However, Lavrov went on, “the evil should be fought fairly” and “lawlessness cannot be eradicated by violating the international law”.
He pointed out that at the initial stage of the Libyan crisis there were opportunities to stop the bloodshed and bring the conflicting sides to the negotiating table. This is what the African Union’s efforts – which Russia supported – were aimed at.
Commenting after a question on Moscow’s stance considering the possibility of military force against Syrian authorities, Lavrov said that Russia proceeds from the UN Charter, “which envisions the use of force only in the cases mentioned in the Charter.” The document permits the use of force in self-defense or if authorized by the UN Security Council.
Earlier this week, Russia along with China vetoed the UN resolution on Syria, urging political dialogue instead of proposed tough sanctions on Bashar Assad’s regime.