Coalition’s interference in Libya’s internal war “not sanctioned by the UN”

Sergey Lavrov  (AFP Photo / Martin Bureau)
Strikes on Muammar Gaddafi’s troops by the Western military run counter to the UN Security Council resolution, the Russian foreign minister said.

­Sergey Lavrov made it clear that the UN Security Council’s resolution on Libya gives no right to the Western powers to interfere in this way. Officials from the coalition are making statements that their goal is to protect civilians, Lavrov told journalists in Moscow on Monday. But at the same time, according to many reports, the coalition has dealt strikes to Gaddafi troops, allegedly with  armed rebels’ support.

There are clear contradictions in this position, Lavrov said, adding that the protection of civilians remains Russia’s priority. “We argue that the coalition's interference in an internal civil war is, in fact, not sanctioned by the UN Security Council's resolution,” Interfax quoted him as saying.

The minister stressed that the reported loss of life among civilians after the coalition strikes should be “urgently checked.” These reports cannot be confirmed immediately, he noted.

As for the NATO’s decision to direct the operation in Libya, Lavrov called it “legitimate.” It is “in line with the parameters of the UN Security Council’s resolution 1973,” the minister said. According to the document, the tasks of securing the no-fly regime can be fulfilled by the countries and organizations that are ready for it.

NATO is one of the organizations capable of fulfilling the mission, Lavrov said, reiterating that the authorized powers can be only used to protect civilians.

The Russian minister urged the parties involved in the internal conflict in Libya to cease fire and try to reach an agreement. Moscow has called for organizing a mediating mission of five African presidents. “The bloodshed in Libya cannot last for long,” Lavrov said. The ceasefire meets the interests of the Libyan people and global stability.

Neutral status for Afghanistan

Speaking on Afghanistan, Lavrov said that the country itself would decide its future. But the Afghans, in his words, could analyze the “advantages of being neutral.” After the current counter-terror operation ends, this status for the country would enhance regional stability.

The minister recalled that there was a long period when Afghanistan was a neutral country. This would be “the optimal solution for stability in the region,” he said, answering a question on the possible presence of the Western countries in Afghanistan in the future.

Many Western officials said their countries maintained their presence to help the Afghans to overcome internal feuds and defend the country from international terrorism. But the Western forces should heed the complaints that “too many civilians are killed in operations,” Lavrov said.

As for Russia, it is interested in a barrier to threats coming from Afghanistan. That is why Moscow supports the efforts of the international security assistance force, “making transit capabilities available to them,” Lavrov said.