Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 72

Yesterday’s apparently amicable meeting in Oslo came as Russian diplomats continued to seek condemnations of the NATO air campaign against Yugoslavia in other key international forums. At the United Nations in New York on April 12, Russia’s UN ambassador introduced a draft resolution asking the World Court to determine the legal consequences of NATO military operations in the Balkans. An earlier Russian draft resolution seeking to win UN Security Council support for a condemnation of the NATO air strikes was soundly rejected (see the Monitor, March 25).

The Russian draft apparently makes no specific mention of Kosovo, but does cite the UN Charter in saying that individual nations and regional organizations cannot use force against sovereign states without the authorization of the UN Security Council. The draft requests “as a matter of urgency” that the International Court of Justice in The Hague render an opinion on the legal and international consequences of such an unauthorized intervention. “No one has the right to use the force of arms, bypassing the UN Charter,” Russian UN ambassador Sergei Lavrov said. “This cannot be justified by any references to the need to overcome ‘humanitarian catastrophes’ or any other considerations of a political, economic or any other character,” he continued (AP, Itar-Tass, April 12). Those are precisely the arguments which Moscow has made in denouncing the NATO air campaign against Yugoslavia.

In Geneva, meanwhile, the Russian delegation yesterday voted against a draft resolution–proposed by a group of NATO and Islamic countries–which accuses Serb authorities of repressing Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian majority. The Russians portrayed the resolution as an attempt to use human rights issues to justify NATO’s air campaign against Yugoslavia. Russian diplomat Vasily Sidorov also said that Moscow had voted against the draft because it contained no references to what Moscow says is the real reason for the current crisis–“NATO aggression against Yugoslavia.” In addition, Sidorov complained that the draft “reflects a one-sided anti-Serb approach toward Kosovo events” and fails to “contain any words denouncing the separatist Kosovo Liberation Army, which uses methods of terror.” Russia was apparently the only country to vote against the draft; it passed 44-1, with six abstentions (Itar-Tass, April 13).