Russia says NATO strikes on Libya exceed mandate
Russia's foreign minister said Friday that NATO had overstepped the UN mandate in Libya, calling for an immediate ceasefire. NATO head Anders Fogh Rasmussen (photo) earlier denied the air strikes went beyond the scope of Resolution 1973.
AFP - Russia's foreign minister charged Friday that NATO was exceeding its UN mandate in Libya and called for an urgent move towards a political settlement to the conflict.
"Today, we can see actions that in a number of cases go beyond the mandate of the UN Security Council," Sergei Lavrov said after talks with NATO foreign ministers in Berlin.
"We believe it is important to urgently transfer things into the political course and proceed with a political and diplomatic settlement," he told a news conference.
"In this context, Russia supports the initiative of the African Union," said the minister, cautioning against the use of "excessive military force that would lead to further additional casualties among civilians."
A bid by the African Union to broker a ceasefire collapsed this week after rebels insisted that Moamer Kadhafi, who accepted the plan, must leave power.
Lavrov said: "We should have an immediate ceasefire and bring the warring parties to the negotiating table so they can agree on the structure of their own country."
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen denied earlier that NATO's air strikes in Libya were beyond the scope of the UN Security Council resolution, which authorised "all necessary measures" to protect Libya's population.
"I have to stress that in the conduct of that operation, we do not go beyond the text or the spirit of UN Security Council Resolution 1973," Rasmussen told a news conference.
"On the contrary, we are implementing the Security Council resolution in strict conformity with both the letter and the spirit of that resolution."
Rasmussen said that "Russia has clearly stated that NATO's operation is legitimate."
Speaking Thursday after a meeting with the leaders of Brazil, India, China and South Africa, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said the UN resolution had not authorised the use of military force.
"The Security Council resolutions should be implemented," Medvedev told reporters. "They should be implemented in accordance with their letter and spirit."
"What have we got as a result (of voting on Libya at the Council)? As a result, we essentially have got a military operation. The resolution says nothing about it."
Russia, a permanent veto-wielding member of the UN Security Council, abstained when the world body voted for the resolution on March 17.