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24 Mar, 2008 17:07

Legacy of NATO's operation in Yugoslavia nine years on

It's been nine years since the launch of the NATO military operation against the former Republic of Yugoslavia. The campaign was dubbed 'humanitarian intervention', as the alliance's declared aim was to protect the Albanian population in the Serbian provi

For the 78 days of the 'humanitarian intervention' the bombs fell. About 2,500 people died, with more than one fifth of them civilians.

For Serbs the date is a tragic memory in their history. But for Kosovo's ethnic Albanians the bombardment was the dawn of freedom.

Peace for one side can mean the opposite for the other. With Russia weak at the time under Boris Yeltsin, the Serbs, in an uneven balance of power, could rely only on themselves and the support of thousands of volunteers to fight back.

Nearly a decade on there's still fire in Kosovo. Last month ethnic Albanians declared independence, but most of the world still hasn't recognised Kosovo as a new state.

According to Aleksandr Dugin, a political analyst and head of the Eurasia Movement, NATO's military operation in Yugoslavia was illegal and unsuccessful.

“Serbs regard it now as an act of violence. Russia and China do not recognise the right to such kinds of operations and we protest against it,” he said.

“I think that in the nine years since this operation attitudes towwards it have changed considerably in the world. More and more people are against it and see it was a case of double standards,” he added.

Meanwhile, activists from a Russian patriotic movement have held a vigil at the Serbian embassy in Moscow.

They were remembering the victims of the 1999 NATO military operation in Yugoslavia. Eighty-nine candles were lit to symbolise the children who died in NATO bombardment.

The activists also laid flowers in front of the Serbian diplomatic mission.