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Thursday, March 25, 1999 Published at 03:20 GMT

World: Europe

Russia condemns Nato at UN

Fire fight: A serb military flare lights up Belgrade during the attacks

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Russia and China have condemned the Nato air strikes on Serbia as "an illegal military action".

Kosovo: Special Report
Speaking at an emergency meeting of the United Nations' Security Council in New York, Russia's ambassador Sergey Lavrov accused the western military alliance of seeking to forge a role as a new "global policeman".

US assertions in council that Nato had the right under existing UN resolutions were backed by the UK, France, The Netherlands, Canada, Slovenia, Albania, Bosnia and Germany, speaking for the European Union.

The BBC's Bridget Kendall: "Anti-Nato protests in Moscow turned ugly"
But Yugoslavia's UN representative Vladislav Jovanovic called on the council to condemn the "most brutal and unprovoked aggression".

The air strikes had already led to "heavy destruction and great loss of human life," he said.

The Security Council meeting ended without any resolution on the deepening crisis as the five permanent members remained divided.

Yeltsin 'upset'

[ image: Mr Yeltsin: Very upset about the bombing]
Mr Yeltsin: Very upset about the bombing
The meeting came after the UN's Secretary-General Kofi Annan gave qualified backing to the strikes, arguing that there were occasions when the use of force could be considered legitimate. But he added that the Security Council should have been involved in the decision.

Earlier, Russia's President Boris Yeltsin said he was "deeply upset" by the bombing, describing it as ''open aggression''.

Kofi Annan: Security Council should be involved in any decision to resort to force
He recalled Russia's chief military representative to Nato, Lieutenant-General Viktor Zavarzin and cancelled any military co-operation with the alliance.

China backs Russia

Echoing Russia's concerns, China's UN Ambassador Qin Huasun said Beijing opposed "power politics of the strong bullying the weak".

China' s President Jiang Zemin had earlier called for the strikes to be halted, saying that he was ''extremely concerned and worried" about action which risked "plunging the region into deeper turmoil".

'Peace on our soil'

[ image: Protests: Serbs burnt the US flag outside Toronto embassy]
Protests: Serbs burnt the US flag outside Toronto embassy
French President Jacques Chirac said that the air attacks were launched to defend "peace on our soil, peace in Europe".

Four German aircraft joined the sorties over Serbia - the first time that any of its military have been involved in foreign combat since the Second World War - a prospect which has previously split German public opinion.

But Chancellor Gerhard Schröder said the strikes were "not aimed at the Serbian people" and promised the allies would do all they could to avoid loss of civilian lives.

'Grave consequences'

[ image:  ]
Libya also criticised the action, warning of ''grave consequences". Iraq which said the strikes had no "international legitimacy" and accused the US of bearing "a large responsibility in crimes of aggression and killing in the world".

The Serb chairman of Bosnia's collective presidency, Zivko Radisic, also condemned the action.

The Vatican deplored the use of force as ''a defeat for humanity''. Pope John Paul said he was praying for ''the gift of peace''.

Security stepped up

Meanwhile, neighbouring countries have been reinforcing their borders.

Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit warned: "The fire in Kosovo could engulf the whole Balkans'' and Albania has sent extra troops to its border and set up bunkers and shelters.

The government has also set up more camps to handle refugees from Kosovo.

Greece boosted security along its borders with Albania and Macedonia, fearing a possible refugee wave.

Officials said the Nato member would not join any direct military action against Serbia - a traditional Greek ally.

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