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Yugoslavia: Russia Reacts Angrily To NATO Airstrikes

Moscow, 25 March 1999 (RFE/RL) -- It took less than an hour for the Kremlin to react angrily to the start of NATO air strikes against military targets in Serbia. The Kremlin said in a statement that NATO air strikes are "an outright aggression" against a sovereign state. The Kremlin statement said that Russia, in case of expanding military conflict due to NATO strikes, reserves the right to take what it called "adequate measures," including military ones, to guarantee its own security and security in Europe.

The statement did not elaborate on possible Russian military measures.

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov earlier made clear that Russia would reconsider its commitment to the international arms embargo imposed by the U.N. on Yugoslavia, in the event of NATO strikes.

Russia asked the United Nations Security Council to meet in an emergency session to discuss the Kosovo crisis. Qin Huasun of China, the president of the council, told reporters in New York that the meeting would be held shortly. Russian foreign ministry officials say Russia considers the strikes as a "flagrant violation of U.N. regulations."

Moscow took a number of other measures that are underlying the ongoing deterioration of its relations with NATO and countries members of the alliance.

The Kremlin statement said Moscow has recalled its representative to NATO in Brussels.

The head of Russia's defense ministry's international cooperation department, general Leonid Ivashev, said President Boris Yeltsin decided to recall General Viktor Zavarzin and other Russian representatives to NATO. Yeltsin is Russia's supreme military commander.

The Kremlin statement said Russia also halted its participation in NATO's Partnership for Peace program and in other partnership programs with the western alliance.

Ivashev also said that preparations already under way for the opening of a NATO mission in Moscow have also been halted.

A few hours ahead of the NATO strikes, Yeltsin appealed to world leaders to stop U.S. President Bill Clinton from making what he called a "terrifying and tragic" mistake. In a speech on national television, Yeltsin said NATO strikes against Serbia would lead to "a war in Europe, if not worse." Before his address, Yeltsin spoke by telephone with Clinton.