20 years ago began NATO’s military operation against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The formal reason for the air strikes began, the accusations of the official Belgrade of ethnic cleansing against the Albanian population of Kosovo. The UN Security Council did not give permission for the bombing of Yugoslavia. Experts call the action Alliance is a flagrant violation of international law. As a result of NATO attacks in Yugoslavia killed about 2000 civilians. According to analysts, the aggression against the European country allowed the US to continue to use NATO forces for military intervention in the Affairs of other sovereign States.

  • Novi Sad during NATO bombing / American fighter US F-15C Eagle over Yugoslavia in April 1999 / Pristina
  • © Wikipedia / AFP / Reuters

24 March 1999 NATO forces began a military operation against Yugoslavia, code-named “allied force”. Force of the Alliance within a few months launched a series of rocket and bomb strikes on the territory of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

The operation was carried out in violation of international law, without the approval of the UN Security Council. Made against it, Russia, China and several other members of the security Council.

“The operation itself, when the bombing of Serbia, carried out with gross violations of all principles of international humanitarian law, because it was bombed purely civilian targets”, — told in interview to television channel NTV, foreign Minister of Russia Sergey Lavrov.

In the first days of the operation, NATO forces tried to seize control of the air, striking the air defense and aviation of Yugoslavia. But mostly bombed purely civilian targets: residential areas of Belgrade, school, kindergartens, oil refineries. Despite the technical superiority of the enemy Yugoslav air defense forces managed on March 27 to shoot down an American stealth aircraft F-117.

In April — may under the NATO strikes were those whom the Alliance is supposed to protect: the columns of Albanian refugees, as well as the civilian infrastructure of Kosovo. These attacks claimed the lives of hundreds of people. According to local media, dropping bombs on civilians, the NATO aircraft then repeated his blows, when the place came the doctors.

The attacks on civilians and civil objects of Yugoslavia during the operation became more ambitious. To stop the death of fellow, Slobodan Milosevic on June 3 gave its consent to the implementation of the Western peace plan. However, the bombing continued for another week. June 20, the Yugoslav troops left Kosovo.

“The Alliance did not have any legitimate basis for such actions, primarily the mandate of the UN Security Council. This act of aggression has been grossly violated fundamental principles of international law enshrined in the UN Charter, the Helsinki Final act and international obligations of States members of the unit. The actions of the Alliance even contrary to the North Atlantic Treaty of 1949, in which NATO pledged not to endanger international peace, security and justice, and to refrain from using force or threat of force in international relations, if it contradicts the purposes of the United Nations. Then was the beginning of the substitution of international law, “procedure”, based on some arbitrary rules, but rather on the law of the strongest”, — reads the statement of the Russian foreign Ministry.

  • Slobodan Milosevic in 1999
  • Reuters

“NATO’s actions against Yugoslavia was an absolute violation of international law. Under international instruments, such use of force is possible only by decision of the UN Security Council, which in this case was not” — said in an interview with RT military expert Ivan Konovalov.

As a result of the NATO operation the people of Yugoslavia suffered heavy losses. According to official data of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, under bombing attacks of the Alliance killed nearly 1700 civilians and nearly 600 security forces. Among the victims of the NATO raids were about 400 children. According to the Russian Ministry of foreign Affairs, victims of aggression were about 2000 civilians, among them 89 children.

Hospitals in Yugoslavia during the bombing with severe injuries have received more than 10 000 people. Hundreds of thousands of citizens of Serbia and Montenegro remained without a livelihood, a roof over your head, and even without access to clean water.

Use NATO ammunition containing depleted uranium has led to a sharp increase in the level of cancer. Even those NATO strikes did not affect directly felt their effects — damage to the Yugoslav economy amounted to about $30 billion was destroyed by the 14 largest enterprises in the country damaged about 50 bridges.

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Despite the technological advantage of NATO’s aggression did not remain without a response. According to the data announced by the chief of the General staff of the Yugoslav army Dragoljub Ojdanic during the fighting were shot down 61 aircraft and seven helicopters of NATO. However, the Alliance recognizes the loss of only two aircraft and several dozen drones.

The path to war


The first performances of Kosovo Albanians took place in 1981. On the background of worsened inter-ethnic relations in Yugoslavia as a whole. In 1991-1992, the country is broke. As part of a renewed Federal Republic of Yugoslavia remained only Serbia and Montenegro.

In the mid-1990s in Kosovo was escalating violence against the Serbian population. Was created the Kosovo liberation Army (KLA) (according to some mass media, with the support of US intelligence and the UK. — RT), taken in 1998, the policy of separation from Yugoslavia. Began full-scale military clashes. After supporting the KLA, the NATO Council said about preparing a military operation against Yugoslavia, official Belgrade on 15 October 1998 signed the truce in Kosovo. However, attacks against the civilian Serb population continued, and in early 1999 Yugoslav security forces were forced to resume fighting.

14-18 January, clashes occurred in the village of Racak. The representatives of the Kosovo liberation Army accused Yugoslav security forces in the “executions” of the Albanian civilian population. According to the findings of the Serbian, Belarusian and Finnish experts killed in Racak were dressed in civilian clothes militants with gunshot residue on his hands. However, the EU Commission considered that the evidence for the involvement of victims in the battles do not exist. The incident in Racak became the formal basis for NATO intervention in the conflict.

  • A rally against NATO in Belgrade
  • Reuters
  • © Petar Kujundzic

“It was not an excuse, but an artificially created pretext. The fact that it was a provocation, has long been known. This has been said, wrote and led evidence. Allegedly killed civilians actually were in the military, fighters of the Albanian liberation army, the so-called Kosovo liberation Army, which just dressed in civilian clothes. It has long been known that it was a “set up”. Organized this provocation, and, unfortunately, the then head of the OSCE mission, the American Walker, who arrived at the scene and found the corpses, which were, as I said, neatly disguised in civilian clothes, right there on the spot said that there had been an act of genocide”, — said Sergey Lavrov.

The Alliance demanded of Belgrade to allow Kosovo to NATO troops, but the leadership of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia refused. United States with the approval of the other Western countries tried to enlist the support of the UN security Council. Against the violent scenario were Russia, China, Argentina and Brazil.

“Americans could not be stopped. They long ago made the decision and tried to “sanctify” him through the UN security Council, and realizing that nothing happened, went to a unilateral aggression against a sovereign state in violation of the UN Charter, principles of the Organization for security and cooperation in Europe and basically all of world order that was established following the Second world war”, — said Sergey Lavrov.

According to political scientist Catherine Pomortseva, the process of separation of Kosovo from Serbia looks well-planned and orchestrated from outside.

“It happened long, smoothly, with a significant amount of resources. I think that even with the unilateral proclamation of Kosovo’s independence in 2008, this process is not over. The Kosovo issue will be relevant in the future,” said pomortseva in an interview with RT.

  • Reuters

Turning over the Atlantic


According to Sergey Lavrov, the US actions in Yugoslavia was connected with the fact that Washington considered himself the Victor in the cold war, and Russia was weakened after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

“Washington came the temptation to take the situation in the world under your complete control, to depart from the principles of coordination of approaches to international problems on the basis of the UN Charter and to solve all arising questions in a way to dominate in all regions of the world,” said Lavrov.


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The bombing of Yugoslavia led to a sharp cooling of relations between Russia and Western countries, particularly the United States. A landmark event was the “u-turn over the Atlantic”, experts say. On 24 March 1999 Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov, EN route a visit to the United States, turned the plane over the Atlantic ocean and returned to Russia.

“If the West understood as the bombing of Yugoslavia will affect the Russian, I think he would not have gone on this adventure. Turn the aircraft Primakov over the Atlantic has closed for Russia “dashing nineties” and marked the beginning of a new era,” — said in a conversation with RT political analyst Armen Gasparyan.

According to military expert Ivan Konovalov, one of the main causes of the conflict was the desire of the authorities of the United States to test NATO to see whether after the cold war to use the power in their own interests without regard to international law and the UN.

“Partners in NATO were involved in aggression against European countries. Moreover, both old and new — they are actually tied by blood. In addition, the United States decided the task of taking under its military air control in South-East Europe, the center of which is Kosovo. You cannot ignore the fact that at the same time bill Clinton got into trouble with Ms. Lewinsky, and it was urgent to divert the public’s attention to the side,” — said Konovalov.

  • Bill Clinton announces the decision to start bombing Yugoslavia
  • Reuters

According to the expert of the Institute for European studies Stevan Galicia, the bombing of Yugoslavia pursued a geopolitical and ideological goals.

“Created a new world order. After the collapse of the bipolar world should be one independent state — the United States. Yugoslavia prevented the West by its very existence, and she sacrificed,” — said the expert.

According to analysts, the fact that the United States without the authorization of the UN security Council was able to conduct a military operation against a sovereign state, was a prelude to the subsequent illegal military intervention of Washington in the Affairs of independent States.

“The bombing of Yugoslavia has opened a Pandora’s box. Thanks to the impunity of States in the Balkans were possible, Iraq, Libya and Syria. And while this process is not stopped,” said Ivan Konovalov.

According to Sergei Lavrov that took place in 1999, “halloo to one another” the world until now.

“The experience of trying to use a separate call when the media is not the media and “propaganda tools”. So, by the way, in France called Russia Today and Sputnik, they were forbidden to appear at events where other accredited media. It was then that began the line on the prosecution of journalists from several media outlets that they are “propaganda mouthpiece” — so explained the need for the strikes against the television center in Belgrade,” said the Russian Minister of foreign Affairs.

“The Balkans can still hear the echo of the bombardments”


Despite the fact that since the NATO operation 20 years have already passed, this issue remains a festering wound for the people of Serbia, experts say.

According to Catherine Pomortseva, the bombing of 1999 was disappointing Serbs in international law.

“For the citizens of Serbia talk about international law — it’s not a funny joke. They do not believe in the proclaimed Western international justice and international courts, including the Yugoslav conflict was condemned primarily Serbs,” — said the expert.

  • Reuters

According to Stevan Galicia, memories of the NATO bombing is extremely painful for the Serbian people and largely determine his current attitude to the Western world.

“Despite the fact that NATO has invested huge money in the propaganda of their ideology, the Alliance has a negative image in Serbia. The Balkans can still hear and will hear the echo of the bombing,” he said.

About the tragedy in 1999 have not forgotten the Serbian leadership.


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“We can forgive but can’t forget the NATO aggression, we want good relations with NATO but do not want to join NATO,” — said shortly before the 20th anniversary of the bombing of the Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic.

Commenting on Vucic and Serbian experts, the head of the Center for the study of modern Balkan crisis of Institute of Slavic studies Elena Guskova said that the cautious tone of the leadership of Serbia due to the difficult foreign policy situation of the country.

“Of course, Vucic says that the bombing of Yugoslavia should be forgotten. The Serbs have not forgotten and will not forget, that’s for sure”, — the expert said in an interview with RT.

According to her, these days in Serbia held a lot of activities at the national and local level, including with the participation of the authorities, not to forget what happened 20 years ago.

“The Serbs remember. And the desire to join NATO they have no. The number of people who are against NATO and against the EU in Serbia is constantly growing”, — summarized Elena Guskova.

  • A destroyed television station in Yugoslavia
  • Reuters