Russia: Coalition troops in Libya must stay within UN mandate
Coalition forces involved in military action in Libya must operate strictly within the United Nations mandate, said Dmitry Rogozin, Russia's ambassador to NATO, on Tuesday, dpa reported.
NATO has agreed to take over responsibility for the mission, which was initially led by the United States and included France, Britain, Spain, Italy and other European countries, launching Tomahawk cruise missile attacks to eliminate Libyan leader Moamer Gaddafi's air defences when the campaign began on March 19.
Rogozin told a press conference in Brussels that while NATO had every right within the UN resolution to take action, it was important for the military alliance not to make any "creative interpretations" of the provisions.
NATO has already been enforcing a no-fly zone over the North African country and patrolling an arms embargo in the Mediterranean. It has also taken over operations meant to protect civilians from Gaddafi's troops.
Rogozin drew attention to reports of civilian casualties in Libya. If this was "proved right, this would be in contradiction with the spirit of (UN) Resolution 1973, which is geared towards saving civilian lives in Libya," he said.
"A political process should go hand in hand with the process of military engagement by the coalition," the Russian envoy said. "Without diplomatic measures as the priority of the international community, there will be no solution of the Libyan crisis."
Russia was one of five countries that abstained from the UN vote on March 17 that imposed a no-fly zone over Libya.