On March 24, 1999, NATO began bombing of Yugoslavia.
An act of aggression against a sovereign independent state was perpetrated in Europe for the first time since World War II. NATO rudely violated fundamental principles of international law, formalised in the UN Charter, and turned the Balkans into a testing site for the streamlining of modern methods of warfare against an inherently weaker country. The process of substituting legitimate mechanisms regulating international relations with a certain rules-based order was launched at that time. In reality, this amounted to cynical arbitrary rule, concealed by fake-news propaganda about an alleged humanitarian disaster in Serbia’s Autonomous Province of Kosovo.
About 2,000 civilians were killed during the 78-day NATO campaign, and many facilities in dozens of cities, including Belgrade, were destroyed or damaged. The use of depleted-uranium munitions contaminated large territories and caused an unprecedented surge in cancer cases. People, including service personnel from the Kosovo Force (KFOR), deployed there by the UN Security Council decision following the war, continue to suffer from malignant tumours to this day. Over 200,000 non-Albanian residents left their places of residence and have been unable to return, primarily for safety reasons.
Acting under the cover of NATO’s aggression, militants from the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army committed horrendous crimes, including the abduction of Serbians whose organs were subsequently removed and sold. Many culprits remain at large, although all of them must stand trial, regardless of their current status and influence.
Conducted over 20 years ago, NATO’s military operation against sovereign Yugoslavia became a tragedy whose long-term and diverse consequences are still being felt. One of its main lessons is that lawlessness and arbitrary rule are unable to solve even a single problem and merely aggravate the situation. This is confirmed by permanent delays in resolving the Kosovo problem.
The issue of NATO Allies’ responsibility for the damage they inflicted on international relations and one specific country remains open.