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Russia: Emotions High In The Face Of NATO 'Aggression' Against Serbs

By Jefim Fistein

Prague, 29 March 1999 (RFE/RL) -- The following interview was conducted on Friday (March 26) by RFE/RL's Jefim Fistein in Russian with Sergei Karaganov, head of Russia's Council for Foreign and Defense Policy. Aurora Gallego translated it into English:

Jefim Fistein: What are your main arguments for thinking that the action in Yugoslavia is a mistake?

Sergei Karaganov: First, this is an aggression because it is not sanctioned by the U.N. Security Council. An attack which is not sanctioned by the U.N. Security Council is, according to international law, an act of aggression. Therefore, this constitutes a violation against one of the foundations of international stability. Second, maybe even more essential is that this action will lead to an increase and not the decrease of human losses because the only way the Serbs can respond to the present situation is to pursue a horizontal escalation of the conflict.

JF: Tell me more about that. How do you see the Serbs reaction?

SK: It has already begun. They have already increased the pressure and the war in Kosovo. Already unrest has begun in Macedonia and soon there will be unrest and possibly armed actions in Bosnia. It is quite possible ... terrorist actions could also occur. That could lead to a Palestine in Europe.

This is an absolutely rash, unacceptable step from the point of view of long-term stability in Europe. And then, until now dozens of people have been dying in Kosovo. Now hundreds and thousands will perish. This is already clear. This step will contribute to the destabilization and possibly a long-term tense European situation. For the first time we are really creating a source of military instability in Europe which will unfortunately simmer for a long time. We have already received all we could endure during the Chechen war; we have considerable experience. But, unfortunately, the Americans have forgotten their Vietnam is as well as our Afghan experience.

JF: How do you see the Russian reaction? It is known that Russia began cutting off relations with NATO and its participation in the Partnership for Peace. Is this a temporary action or a long- term one?

SK: We did not cut off the relationship, we froze it. This is why everything will depend on the actions of the other side. We are ready to renew our relationship if the aggression stops and when the aggression stops. As far as the declarations concerning the stationing of nuclear weapons or annulling the regime of sanctions against those who are internationally banned, I don't think Russia will do that and I don't think it should.

But in Russia emotions are running high regarding the aggressor. The majority of the population shares these opinions. The people think the aggressor should be stopped and that if we don't stop him now, things could become more dangerous. This I think gives grounds to assume that many Russians will be ready to fight.