United Nations (CNN) -- Russia's call for an investigation into civilian deaths caused by NATO in Libya is a "cheap stunt," the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations said Thursday.
"Obviously, the United States and NATO partners regret any loss of civilian lives, but we also know that these are investigated, including by the Human Rights Council's commission of inquiry," Susan Rice told reporters. "We welcome that.
"We note that neither the Libyan government nor a majority of the members of the Security Council expressed any interest in additional investigations," she said. "And frankly, it's not an exaggeration to say that this is something of a cheap stunt to divert attention from other issues, and to obscure the success of NATO and its partners, and indeed from the Security Council, in protecting the people of Libya."
Earlier, Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said the investigation is needed because initially, Security Council members were led to believe by NATO officials that there were no civilian casualties in Libya.
While others might say the Human Rights Council or the International Criminal Court is already looking into the matter, Churkin said, "in our view, it does require a special focus," noting an ICC probe could take years.
Russia and some other delegations believe NATO exceeded the focus of the Security Council resolution authorizing measures to protect Libyan civilians.
He said some delegations accused him of using Libya to divert attention from Syria, as Russia was one of the council members blocking a resolution on Syria in October. But, Churkin said, "today we're discussing Libya."
There was no conclusion to the discussion, Churkin told reporters, but "we're going to continue to pursue this matter." Last week, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin accused U.S. drones and special forces of involvement in the death of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta acknowledged the day after Gadhafi's death that "it was a U.S. drone combined with the other NATO planes that fired on the convoy" in which Gadhafi was traveling outside the city of Sirte. But the Pentagon has denied that any U.S. forces were on the ground in a combat role in Libya