Russia: Nato has overstepped UN mandate on Libya
Friday 22 April 2011
Libya litmus test: Russia is following military developments in North Africa closely Photo: Reuters/Vostock-Photo
Yevgeny Shestakov, Special to Russia Now 3:43PM BST 21 Apr 2011
As Nato members met to rally forces in the Libya operations, Russia kept up pressure on the alliance to adhere to its UN mandate. Old concerns about missile defences were close behind.
At a Berlin meeting of Nato foreign ministers, Russia reiterated its stance that the western alliance's Libya campaign has overstepped its UN mandate through use of excessive force. It also pressed home concerns in the ongoing issue of missile defences in Europe.
"We consider that certain actions by Nato in Libya do not correspond to its mandate, and we would like to investigate this," Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, said after Friday's talks.
Participating in the framework of the Russia-Nato Council, Mr Lavrov added that he had requested that the Nato leadership strictly observes the positions on Libya adopted by resolution 1973 ofthe UN Security Council.
Russia saw the Nato action as a real-life litmus test of that organisation's new strategic conception and its readiness not to overstep its authority as defined by the UN, Mr Lavrov told ministers from Nato's 28 member states and leaders of allied nations. Russia, which has power to veto UN resolutions, abstained from last month's vote that authorised the airstrikes by Nato.
As the alliance sought in Berlin to find extra aircraft for the campaign against Colonel Gaddafi's loyalists, Mr Lavrov stressed that "using excessive military force will lead to additional casualties among civilians". However, he went on, "Russia does not intend to act as watchdog when it comes to respecting Security Council resolutions on Libya."
The Russian delegation expressed satisfaction that the first report by Nato General Secretary Anders Fogh Rasmussen on the implementation of Libya-related resolutions had been delivered to the UN Security Council.
Regarding the planned development of a European anti-ballistic missile defence shield, a major sticking point in relations with Nato, Mr Lavrov underscored Moscow's basic position: all participants in the project must agree on criteria guaranteeing that the system will not be directed against any of them. Russia also wants guarantees that Nato's military planning will not threaten its interests.
The meeting in Berlin also failed to allay Russian apprehensions about Nato plans to adopt a "stage-by-stage adaptive approach" in developing a European shield. In the opinion of Russian military experts, the anticipated appearance of missile interceptors near Russia's borders within 8 to 10 years under current plans would create potential risks for its intercontinental missiles.
It remains unclear to what extent the alliance and the US are willing to involve non-Nato members like Russia in work on the system. After the Nato-Russia Council meeting in Berlin, Mr Lavrov said talks about the possibility of Russia joining the European system of missile defence are being conducted not only with the alliance, but also in Washington.
The ministers in Berlin affirmed renewed efforts to fight terrorism. Actively being promoted is a joint Russia-Nato programme to develop remote identification of explosives carried by suicide bombers. For Afghanistan, the sides agreed to create a special helicopter fund to help raise the qualifications of Afghan personnel who service flight equipment.
Armed US Drones To Start Libya Missions
Thursday April 21, 2011
Armed US Predator drones will start missions in Libya as rebels take control of a key post on the border with Tunisia.
US President Barack Obama has given the go-ahead to use the unmanned aircraft which have already seen action in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq.
Marine General James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the drones can help counteract Gaddafi forces' tactic of travelling in civilian vehicles.
"What they will bring that is unique to the conflict is their ability to get down lower, therefore to be able to get better visibility on targets that have started to dig themselves into defensive positions.
"They are uniquely suited for urban areas."
It comes as Libyan rebels claimed the capture of the Wazin border crossing following fighting outside the desert town of Nalut - about 140 miles southwest of the capital Tripoli.
Moussa Ibrahim: 'We will unleash hell upon Nato'
Rebel leaders and witnesses said at least 13 Libyan military officers, including two commanders, fled across the border.
A doctor with Tunisia's Red Crescent said the border post was in rebel hands and relief officials fear it could lead to a new wave of refugees.
"The main worry now is an influx of families fleeing the fighting in Libya," Dr Mongi Slim said.
"Before, when the post was under the control of the pro-Gaddafi forces, people had been crossing on little paths. But now it will be much easier."
But Sky's Tom Rayner, reporting from Tripoli, said Gaddafi's Government had denied these claims.
"They claim the rebels have control of the Tunisian side of the border, but they [the Government] have control of the Libyan side."
Meanwhile a passenger ferry carrying about 1,000 people fleeing the western city of Misratah has arrived in Benghazi.
Also aboard the vessel are the bodies of British Oscar-nominated photographer and filmmaker Tim Hetherington and Getty photographer Chris Holdros.
They were killed on Wednesday in an attack that also injured two other photographers.
A statement from Mr Hetherington's family said he was killed by a rocket-propelled grenade.
It comes as the Ministry of Defence said Nato was now targeting most of its air effort on the besieged city because of what it called the "grievous situation" for the civilian population.
Rebels appear to be gaining more international support, including plans by Italy, France and Britain to send combat advisers and other nations pledging communications and other equipment under the Nato mission.
But Col Gaddafi's regime hit back with fierce threats if the alliance sends any troops to Libya.
"If Nato comes to Misratah, or any Libyan city, we will unleash hell upon Nato," Government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim said.
"We will be a ball of fire. Libya will become one man, one woman, fighting for freedom. We will make it 10 times as bad as Iraq."
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