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    RUSSIANS NEGATIVELY ASSESS NATO'S ROLE IN KOSOVO CRISIS SETTLEMENT

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    MOSCOW, April 8 (RIA Novosti) - Five years ago, the government of the former Yugoslavia announced the termination of warfare in the Serbian territory of Kosovo. However, for these years, the situation there has not stabilized. Moreover, in March 2004 the territory faced another outbreak of interethnic clashes, as a result of which, under the pressure of Kosovo Albanians, thousands of Serbs were forced to leave their houses, and tens of Orthodox churches were destroyed. Kosovo actually became an "ethnically clean" region, where some 70,000 Serbs and over 2 million Albanians reside, despite the fact that NATO forces are deployed in the territory.

    The all-Russian center of public opinion research (VTsIOM) asked its respondents in late March 2004 to assess the efficiency of NATO's military action in 1999 in the region and its consequences for Kosovo. On the whole, the attitude remains negative, just as five years ago.

    19% of Russians believe that the NATO operation in Kosovo resulted in the weakening of Russia's positions in the Balkans; 17% agree that the action resulted in the ousting of Serbs from Kosovo; 17% believe that a negative precedent of using force counter to international law was created in Serbia.

    A small number of those polled believe the NATO- and US-declared aims in Kosovo were fulfilled. 5% agreed that as a result of the NATO operation, bloodshed was terminated, 4% believe that the precedent of a head of state (Slobodan Milosevic), who, in the West's opinion, is responsible for "ethnic cleansing" in Kosovo, brought to international court was created.

    2% of Russians think that as a result of NATO actions, democracy was established in Serbia.

    It's noteworthy that there was no substantial difference in the answers of different strata of the population.

    This all-Russian poll was conducted on March 27-28 in 100 populated localities of 39 regions, territories and republics of Russia. 1,600 people were questioned at places of residence. Statistical error does not exceed 3.4%.

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