March 24 marks the 20th anniversary of NATO's bombing of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia codenamed Operation Allied Force. The North Atlantic Alliance's bombing of a sovereign state lasted two and a half months and ended only on June 10, 1999.
The operation carried out without the consent of the UN became evidence of NATO's aggression against a sovereign European state and actually led to its breakup. During the bombing, the overall death toll stood at about 2.5 thousand people, more than 1.7 thousand of whom were civilians, including almost 400 children. About 12.5 thousand were seriously wounded.
The United States was the main acting force in this operation, and the American campaign's codename was "Merciful Angel." Apparently, the US leadership failed to come up with anything more cynical to name this punitive operation.
It is worth reminding that international intervention was triggered by an inter-ethnic conflict between Albanians and Serbs historically living in Kosovo. On September 23, 1998, the United Nations Security Council approved Resolution 1199, which called upon the authorities in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the Kosovo Albanian leadership to ensure a ceasefire in Kosovo and enter into negotiations without delay. However, the parties' dialogue about peace resulted in nothing.
And on the evening of March 24, 1999, without official sanction of the UN Security Council, the North Atlantic Alliance began military operations in the territory of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The go-ahead decision was taken by former NATO Secretary General Javier Solana. Thirteen countries of the Alliance provided their aircraft to take part in the military operation, including France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States. The US contingent accounted for 75% of all the Alliance forces' operations.
The NATO striking force comprised 277 aircraft, among them 192 bombers, 63 logistic support aircraft, 19 reconnaissance airplanes and three helicopters. The campaign's overall command was carried out by NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe, American General Wesley Clark. In total, during the operation the allied forces carried out almost 40,000 combat missions with more than 900 targets attacked in the territory of Serbia and Montenegro, more than 21,000 tons of explosives dropped, which significantly exceeds the US Hiroshima and Nagasaki strikes in August 1945.
Shortly after the military aggression began, the FRY Parliament voted to join the union of Russia and Belarus. But then Russian President Boris Yeltsin blocked this process, believing that such a decision could have given rise to a number of difficulties of international nature.
However, Moscow had repeatedly pointed to the invalidity of NATO bombings of the territory of the FRY, stressing their cruelty and inhumanity. At that time, many people in our country were dissatisfied with what the United States and the North Atlantic Alliance did in Yugoslavia.
It will just suffice to mention the famous U-turn over the Atlantic by Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov, who in discontent to the NATO bombing of the territory of the FRY canceled his official visit to the United States halfway and came back to Moscow. Back in those days, this deeply symbolic act of protest of the Russian Prime Minister caused a real stir in the West, exciting admiration with some and indignation with others.
In the days of NATO bombings of Yugoslavia, your present correspondent worked at the Voice of Russia broadcasting company, which hourly informed the world community and Russians about developments in Yugoslavia on a daily basis and in dozens of languages. Both Russia and the world followed the events in the Balkans very closely, and it was necessary to constantly inform the audience about how little Serbia whom the US and NATO punished for Kosovo, lived and defended itself during the 78 days and nights.
The bombing only ceased on June10, 1999 after the Macedonian city of Kumanovo saw representatives of the FRY army and NATO signing a military-technical agreement on the withdrawal of troops and the police of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia from Kosovo and on the deployment of international armed forces.
The number of soldiers and civilians killed in that NATO operation remains unspecified. According to the FRY authorities, the bombings claimed the lives of about 2.5 thousand people, more than 1.7 thousand of whom were civilians, including almost 400 children. Some 12.5 thousand were seriously wounded. People kept dying even after the operation ended, as NATO used radioactive depleted uranium (U 238) in its munitions. However, not a single official of the NATO bloc has been punished for attacks on civilian targets and civilian deaths during the operation in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
The final amount of damage to the industrial, transport and civil assets of Yugoslavia has not been named. By various estimates, it accounted for some $30 to $100 billion. About 200 manufacturing enterprises, oil depot terminals, energy and infrastructure facilities were destroyed or seriously damaged, including 82 railway and road bridges. At least 100 historical and architectural monuments under the protection of government and UNESCO were affected.
Today the United States and Europe are trying to abstain from recalling those distant years and Operation Merciful Angel which was by no means merciful. However, Serbia is not going to ever forget NATO bombings. After all, to this day there is not a whole lot known about what weapons the Alliance used in the war against Serbia and Montenegro. This information cannot be found anywhere, and Washington and Brussels do not talk about this at all. The American command has never informed the world community what Tomahawks, vacuum and cluster bombs they dropped on people's heads and industrial facilities...
It is important to emphasize here that United States' and NATO's naked aggression against Yugoslavia in 1999, committed after the end of the Cold War, virtually broke the then existing world order. The bombing of the FRY also showed the world that Washington and Brussels see no barriers, are ready to violate all the existing regulations and defy international law.
Apparently, without having learned the sad lessons of 20 years ago in Yugoslavia, the present-day United States under President Donald Trump continues its aggressive foreign policy and is ready to resort to violence against other countries without asking permission from the UN, in accordance with its narrow interests alone. Washington's recent threats against the sovereign Venezuela have been a clear proof of this.