Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov has warned that NATO's Libya campaign is "one step" away from sending in ground troops to assist antigovernment forces battling Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi.
Ivanov, speaking at an Asian forum on June 5, criticized the expansion of military intervention in Libya, saying that while Moscow initially supported the move "of course we didn't mean that [ground intervention] when supporting the resolution."
NATO on June 3 deployed attack helicopters in the country.
Witnesses told reporters today that NATO warplanes have been launching air raids on Tripoli and its eastern suburbs.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov earlier cautioned that Moscow will not support any moves by the international community that would lead to "a further escalation of a civil war by any means, including outside intervention."
Prime Minister Vladmir Putin has also been critical of the Western-led campaign, saying it "resembles medieval calls for crusades."
Russia abstained from voting on the March UN resolution authorizing force to protect civilians in Libya.
compiled from agency reports