20 years since NATO bombed Yugoslavia for 78days
by Shenali Waduge ·
From 24 March 1999 to 9 June 1999 NATO forces (19 nations) bombed Yugoslavia – 38,004 sorties including 10,484 strike sorties, 23,614 air munitions were released of which 35% were precision-guided. NATO dropped 6303 tons of munitions. The bombing damaged 25,000 houses and apartment buildings & destroyed 470km of roads & 600km of railway. This was the first time NATO went to war and first time NATO went to war illegally without UN sanction. The 78-day campaign was known as Operation Allied Force. While 24 March marks 20 years of NATO bombing of Yugoslavia it also marks 20 years of NATO troops in Yugoslavia too. NATO bombing was supported by US President Bill Clinton and British PM Tony Blair. “Humanitarian” intervention was the excuse to justify NATO bombing of Yugoslavia. The collateral damage included destruction of 300 schools, libraries, and over 20 hospitals. 40,000 homes were either completely eliminated or damaged and about 90 historic and architectural monuments were ruined. Long-term harm was caused to the region’s ecology and, people’s health, as well as the billion-dollar economic damage. More than 2000 civilians were killed and at least 6000 were injured.
Was NATO bombing legal?
NATO bombing was illegal as the 19 member states did not have UNSC sanction and ‘humanitarian intervention’ was used to justify the bombing. How can anyone claim to be doing a humanitarian service by dropping bombs on a nation that would hit unarmed civilians? NATO conducted all of its bombing from altitudes above 5,000 metres. Belgrade alone lived through 146 air raid alerts, for a combined duration of 774 hours – an average of 9 hours and 55 minutes per day.
Why did NATO bomb Yugoslavia?
Yugoslavia refused to comply with Kosovo Liberation Army demands for self-governance in Kosovo. The NATO bombing as to force President Milosevic to accept the terms of an agreement & end his military campaign against the KLA.
The Racak massacre (trigger point) claiming ‘mass killing of civilians’ of Albanians by Serbia was used to justify NATO operations. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (Russia’s representative at UN from 1994-2004) says Moscow insisted on an investigation and EU commissioned a group of Finnish forensic experts and the report was handed by EU to the ICTY (Tribunal for Yugoslavia) but the full report was not made public but parts of report was leaked & quoted by media saying victims were not civilians, the bodies found in Racak were in disguise & bullet holes on clothes & bodies did not match and no one was killed at short range. However, the report was never made public.
When did the 78day bombing by NATO end
What started out on 24 March 1999 ended on 10 June 1999 with the signing of Kumanovo Agreement and the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1244. Yugoslavian army left Kosovo and 36,000 international peace keepers arrived in Kosovo.
What are the Rambouillet Talks?
Milosevic refused to sign the Rambouillet agreement as he didn’t want international forces deployed in Yugoslavia.
Henry Kissinger described the failure of these talks as an ‘excuse to start bombing’ Yugoslavia.
Was there an international investigation?
Yes, that international investigation investigating the bombing concluded that the bombing was ‘illegal but legitimate’ – this is why Sri Lanka refuses any time of international interference or investigations.
What was the collateral damage from the NATO ‘humanitarian’ 78 day bombing campaign
There was massive collateral damage – 80% – 87.5% of victims died during or after Operation Allied Force. Schools were closed, payments to retirees were halved. Oil, sugar, washing soap, diapers, cigarettes and other basic necessities became scarce. Traveling became difficult – longer & dangerous. Phone lines cut made it impossible to connect with relations/friends.
NATO bombing destroyed 50 highways, railway bridges, radio & television installations & heat plants. Attacks on electric power installations caused electricity blackouts & lack of running water to cities, towns and villages.
- 1991 – break-up of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia begins as Slovenia and Croatia declare their independence.
- 1996 – Madeleine Albright named first female US Secretary of State. As UN ambassador, Albright had argued in favor of early military intervention in Bosnia
- 12 April 1999 – passenger train passing bridge near city of Nis was bombed by 4 rockets. The question is if 1st was a mistake why send more rockets?
- 23 April 1998 – In national referendum, 95% of Serbs reject foreign mediation to solve the Kosovo crisis
- 24 October 1998 – NATO Supreme Commander Wesley Clark and Chairman of the NATO Military Committee Gen. Klaus Naumann travel to Belgrade. Milosevic agrees to reduce FRY forces in Kosovo to pre-March 1998 levels.
- 19 Dec 1998 – President Clinton impeached by House of Representatives.
- 15 January 1999 – Milosevic refuses to allow war crimes prosecutor Judge Louise Arbour to visit Racak.
- 23 April 1999 – NATO bombs the headquarters of Serbian state television at least 10 dead.
- 1 May 1999 — Forty-seven bus passengers are killed when NATO bombs a bridge in Kosovo.
- 7 May 1999 – Chinese embassy in Yugoslav capital Belgrade was hit & set on fire by NATO.
- 14 May 1999 — At least 79 people are killed and 58 wounded when NATO missiles hit Korisa, a village in southern Kosovo.
- 27 May 1999: The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia announces the indictment of Slobodan Milosevic, president of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and four other high-ranking Yugoslav and Serbian officials for ordering the persecution of the Kosovo Albanian civilian population
- 30 May 1999 – NATO bombs a bridge in Varvarin, reportedly killing 11 civilians.
- 31 May 1999 — At least 20 people are killed at a sanatorium at Surdulica, southern Serbia.
- 1 November 2000: The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia is admitted as a member of the United Nations, eight years after its U.N. membership was suspended following the breakup of the former Yugoslavia.
- 20 December 2000: IMF’s board approves a loan worth about $151 million to help stabilize the republic’s economy and rebuild its administration.
- 15 January 2001: Hans Haekkerup of Denmark takes over from Bernard Kouchner as U.N. administrator for Kosovo. (Bernard Kouchner arrived in Sri Lanka with David Miliband to demand Sri Lanka stop military offensive against LTTE)
- 19 January 2001: The World Health Organization announces that it will send a team of experts to Kosovo to study the possible health effects of depleted uranium used during NATO’s air campaign. (depleted uranium is a banned chemical)
Response by NATO to bombings & civilian deaths
“We never said we would avoid casualties. It would be foolhardy to say that, as no military operation in history has been perfect,” – Jamie Shea, NATO’s chief spokesman
“If President Milošević really wants all of his population to have water and electricity all he has to do is accept NATO’s five conditions and we will stop this campaign.” – Jamie Shea
Moscow’s former envoy to NATO (1997-2002), Viktor Zavarzin, believes the military alliance’s aggression was “a crime against humanity” and a “violation of international laws and norms.”
“Twelve days of surgical bombing was never going to turn Serbia around. Let’s see what 12 weeks of less than surgical bombing does. Give war a chance.” – Thomas Friedman, an opinion writer New York Times
PM Tony Blair statement to House of Commons https://www.theguardian.com/world/1999/mar/23/balkans.tonyblair
Use of depleted uranium by NATO
former chief surgeon at the Institute for Oncology and Radiology Momcilo Inic insisted that he has noted an increase in cancer patients since the 1999 NATO campaign.
The NATO bombing of Serbia in 1999 used between 10 and 15 tons of depleted uranium, which caused a major environmental disaster,” said Srdjan Aleksic. The UN International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia has also admitted“there is evidence of use of depleted uranium (DU) projectiles by NATO aircraft during the bombing campaign.”
How world viewed KLA
Former US President Bill Clinton’s special envoy to the Balkans, Robert Gelbard, described the KLA “without any questions, a terrorist group.”
The ruthlessness of imperial motives can be seen by what took place in Yugoslavia. Breaking up the country into micro puppet states, arming rebel movements & using them as a means to force governments into accepting agreements drafted to West’s advantage so they can secure natural resources or place their troops for bigger operations in the future.
KLA is just another LTTE and the manner West has supported both is clearly visible.
When Racak was a false flag to justify invasion of Yugoslavia, when Srebrenica massacre or genocide was another false flag and calls for international investigations also resulted in claiming that NATO intervention was illegal though legitimate justifies Sri Lanka’s refusal to have any international tribunals or international judges because their judgments are not going to be any different to the biased judgments that have been seen since Yugoslavia. Every UN tribunal held has its own story of bias and corruptions – Sri Lanka would be stupid to walk into another trap. Liberated Kosovo was handed over to KLA leader – that’s no different to LTTE proxy TNA now calling for international courts & judges and taking over where LTTE left off. KLA and LTTE have another thing in common – illegal narcotics and Kosovo is a hub for illegal supply & distribution of narcotics just as Sri Lanka has come to be.
There are many lessons to be learnt from what the West did to Yugoslavia and in particular Milosevic whom they used the media to project as ‘dictator’ before hurling him for war crimes that he never committed and was eventually exonerated after 14 years but by that time he had mysteriously died in prison.
These are scenarios we know will happen to Sri Lanka’s leaders whom the West & alliances want out of the way so that they can get their dirty hands on Sri Lanka’s geopolitical position and its resources as we can see by the manner their puppets placed in power since 2015 regime change are now dishing out every national asset of Sri Lanka.
Shenali D Waduge