Russia: NATO strikes hurting relations with U.S.
March 28, 1999
MOSCOW (CNN) -- NATO's bombing campaign against Yugoslavia will have "serious" consequences on U.S.-Russian relations, and it has already led the Russian parliament to postpone consideration of a long-delayed nuclear disarmament treaty, Russia's foreign ministry told CNN on Sunday.
"We believe this bombing is a clear violation of international law, of the U.N. charter, of the Washington treaty and of the Russia-NATO founding act," Foreign Ministry spokesman Vladimir Rakhmanin said.
"We warned the U.S. side that it would be a grave mistake to start these bombings. The U.S. has its own reasons to start which we did not believe in," he said.
The airstrikes prompted Russia's lower house of parliament, the Duma, to put off discussing the START II nuclear arms reduction treaty, which was signed six years ago but has not yet been ratified by Russia.
"Yesterday, the Duma recommended to the president to withdraw his introduction to the treaty to the Duma," Rakhmanin said. "We believe this treaty is very important to Russian national interest and for a more stable world in the future."
The Duma also delayed a vote on START II in December, when U.S. and British forces launched four days of air attacks on Iraq following charges the Iraqis were not cooperating with weapons inspectors.
Russians have vented their anger at the NATO airstrikes in daily protests outside the U.S. embassy in Moscow. A demonstration Sunday turned violent when a masked man in camouflage tried to fire a rocket-propelled grenade at the embassy, but the launcher apparently malfunctioned.
When police opened fire, the man returned fire with an automatic weapon, striking the embassy several times.
Russia's government condemned the embassy attack, calling it a "criminal act." Russian President Boris Yeltsin ordered heightened security for the U.S. embassy.
Russia has launched its own diplomatic initiative to end the conflict over Kosovo. Three leading liberal Russian politicians arrived in Belgrade on Sunday night to hold discussions with Yugoslav leaders, Reuters reported.
U.S.-Russia relations wounded by NATO airstrikes
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Tribune
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