NATO’s aggression against Yugoslavia in 1999 was a mistake and a crime that turned the clock back for the region, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic told Serbia’s Happy TV network overnight to Wednesday, TASS reported.
According to the Serbian leader, he cannot agree with the view that the aggression "was necessary and was a choice between the two evils." "That was an aggression, which was completely erroneous. That was a crime that turned the clock back for the region," Vucic stressed.
The president also commented on remarks by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg who earlier told the Tanjug news agency that the bombing raids were necessary and legitimate and were not directed against the people. "Why then did you destroy so many bridges, shot at a train that did not carry any weapons or shells? We are still dealing with the aftermath [of these actions] in terms of bridges and other infrastructure, and I cannot accept this argument," he said.
March 24, 2019, marked 20 years since the beginning of NATO’s military operation against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The bombing raids were carried out without the UN Security Council’s authorization. NATO’s top officials said the principal cause of Operation Allied Force was preventing the alleged genocide against Albanian population in Kosovo. According to NATO’s website, during the operation, which lasted 78 days, the alliance’s warplanes made 38,000 sorties, more than 10,000 of them for conducting bombing raids.
According to Western data made public by Human Rights Watch, the bombings killed nearly 500 civilians and some 1,000 troops. Serbian data said some 2,000 civilians were killed in the bombing raids and several hundred people went missing, while the death toll among the military is estimated at 1,000. Serbia’s military and industrial infrastructure was almost fully destroyed, and more than 1,500 settlements, 60 bridges, 30% schools and 100 monuments were ruined. Material damage amounted to between $30bln and $100bln, and some facilities have not been rebuilt to date.
According to research by military experts, 3,000 cruise missiles were fired, about 80,000 tonnes of bombs, including cluster bombs and ones containing depleted uranium, were dropped. The bombing of oil refineries and petrochemical plants led to the contamination of the country’s water system with toxic substances.