Archive news from LondonNet's news desk on the NATO bombing in Yugoslavia


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NATO Attacks Serbia:
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NATO Rejects Latest Serb Peace Offer
- Ceasefire a 'Cynical Ploy' says West
- Kosovo Appeal for refugees - Full contact and web details

TONY BLAIR and other NATO leaders have rejected a Serb Easter ceasefire as a 'cynical ploy'.

Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic made the announcement of the ceasefire yesterday afternoon but was immediately rebuffed across Europe and North America. Although he has ordered his military and special police forces to return to barracks he has not accepted that UN or NATO observers be allowed into Kosovo to guarantee a safe return for Albanian refugees. This is a key demand for a halt to the bombing from NATO according to their spokesman 'Jamie' Shea.

Meanwhile as the refugee crisis continues, a charity initiative launched across the broadcasting media media yesterday has already broken fund raising records. By midnight over 2 million UKP had been raised. The appeal combines together Britain's leading charities in this field, including Oxfam, The British Red Cross and Christian Aid.

The Disasters Emergency Committee Kosovo Appeal can be reached online, by post or by phone:
Telephone: 0870 606 0900 or 0990 222 233
Donations by Post: Disasters Emergency Committee Kosovo Appeal, PO Box 999, London, EC4A 9AA

Kosovo Refugees Appeal: Special message from LondonNet's Publishers

NATO Digs In For Long Campaign
- Allies maintain bombing as Balkan arms build up continues

NATO LEADERS are committing an increasing number and variety of weaponry and personnel to the Balkan theatre.

Following twelve days of airstrikes against targets in Yugoslavia the brief has now widened to include 'economic' targets in Serbia and ground troops in Kosovo. To maintain this wide ranging campaign the US is sending Apache attack helicopters and other high-tech airpower, while the UK and other European forces send Tornados and Mirage fighter/bombers.

Many supporters of the military mission claim this is a precursor to a limited ground based attack. But the necessary manpower buildup could take 6-8 weeks according to military analysts.

In the UK opposition to the NATO bombing has increased over the Easter break. As the pictures of hundreds of thousands of refugees have been shown across the nation's living rooms, many question whether the bombings have merely exasperated the humanitarian problem.

NATO War 'Plan' Unravels
- Disquiet in Washington compounded by capture of three US soldiers

THERE ARE reports of disquiet in Washington as doubts mount over the effectiveness of NATO's bombing campaign against wayward Yugoslavia.

Many analysts and Congressman are concerned that the air attacks will achieve little beyond symbolism, except of course death and destruction on the ground. They fear that this in turn could steel the Serb's resolve in much the same way as Vietnamese people bound together during their decade of enduring air strikes.

The general view seems to be an acceptance that the only way to enforce a peace agreement which assures the security of Kosovars is to call in ground troops. At this stage such an escalation is politically unacceptable believe commentators.

To compound the already problematic NATO mission, Serbian TV have shown pictures of what they claim are three captured US soldiers. US officials claim that the troops were part of a peacekeeping force that was in the process of withdrawing from the Kosovo/Macedonia border region.

As if all this was not enough to prejudice public support for the war, there are reports that the US Air force is running out of Tomahawk Cruise Missiles and that Russia is sending 7 warships to the region.

NATO Rejects Peace and Steps Up Attacks
- Refugee crisis as war paralyses Balkan region

NATO LEADERS have rejected as 'woefully inadequate' a peace offer negotiated yesterday by Russian Premier Yevgeny MilosevicPrimakov from Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic (pictured right).

The offer would have seen a major withdrawal of Serb troops from Kosovo and the return of ethnic Albanians to the troubled province, in return for an immediate NATO ceasefire. NATO dismissed the proposal as inadequate as they demand Serb forces withdraw before any cessation is considered.

The refugee crisis, which has been exasperated by the conflict, is threatening to paralyse the Balkan region. The following NATO/Unicef figures published in today's Independent newspaper show the scale of the problem:

Kosovo Refugee Crisis
Population one year ago: 2 million
Fled before 24 March: 250,000
Fled since NATO bombing: 250,000
- of which:
refugees within Kosovo: 160,000
refugees outside Kosovo: 90,000

Peace In Our Time?
- Primakov leaves Belgrade with Serb ceasefire proposal

RUSSIAN PREMIER Yevgeny Primakov has left Belgrade following a six hour meeting with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.

Primakov will set out terms of a proposed deal which in return for a Serb ceasefire in Kosovo could see NATO air attacks halted forthwith. The Russian Prime Minister was under direct orders from his President Boris Yeltsin to formulate a deal which while halting the Serbian offensive in Kosovo would also stop NATO's bombing of fellow Slavs.

Milosevic has now offered to withdraw his troops from Kosovo. NATO partners will now examine the terms of the offer before halting their attacks.

The Serb leader would be keen to see a ceasefire which would allow him to prepare for a fresh period of brinkmanship which could further test NATO's resolve. Already cracks have appeared in the coalition with Italy and Greece voicing concern over the duration and extent of bombing.

Meanwhile the refugee crisis deepens throughout the region. Hundreds of thousands of displaced Kosovars have fled to the border of their troubled province.

Doubts Raised Over NATO Bombing
- Downed Stealth fighter shows vulnerability of West's mission

FOLLOWING the loss of a high-tech 'Stealth' fighter on the weekend the NATO mission to bomb Serbia back to the negotiating table is ever more perilous.

Prior to the F-117A crashing to earth late Saturday near Belgrade, the USAF had claimed that the fighter was invisible to enemy radar. That invincibility is in tatters with the news that a Serb SA-3 missile is believed to have downed the UKP 30 million aircraft. NATO forces have taken comfort in the claimed rescue of the as yet unnamed US pilot, within hours of the crash.

Although, according to this weekend's polls, a clear majority support the NATO action, an increasingly vocal opposition to the campaign is gearing up. There are those who oppose the bombing as being immoral and unwarranted. Others worry that there is no clear mission, in particular that there is little prospect of the bombing changing Serb policy in Kosovo. Many commentators agree that only the use of ground troops can give NATO leaders a realistic prospect of 'liberating' Kosovo.

Any ground campaign would be a step too far for many members of the public who recall the humiliating wars fought by the two great superpowers in Vietnam and Afghanistan.

Tony Parsons writing in the Mirror said "We have started a war that we are not prepared to finish. And far from bringing peace to Europe, my bet is that it will bring screaming chaos."

What do you think?
Are NATO countries right to bomb Serbia over autonomy for Kosovo?
- Have your say today on our News Talkback bulletin board.

Palace Star Demonstrates Outside PM Blair's London Home
- Sasa Curcic joins hundreds of Serbs and anti-war protesters at Downing Street

HUNDREDS OF SERBS and anti-war protesters have been staging a night time demonstration outside Downing Street.

They included exiles, London born Serbs and anti-war demonstrators. The protest was there to welcome home Prime Minister Tony Blair who arrived back form his EU conference in Berlin. Crystal Palace footballer Sasa Curcic joined the protest which continued through the night.

- MPs divided over NATO's blitzkrieg tactics

NATO showed there was no let up in their mass bombing campaign, with a stepped up series of raids yesterday and more attacks planned for the weekend. Blair is reported to have warned his cabinet that he campaign may continue for weeks if Serb leader Milosevic fails to cave in to NATO's demands.

But MPs were far from unanimous in their support for the blitzkrieg style attacks. Veteran left-winger Tony Benn attempted unsuccessfully to have a division (vote) on the issue.

"We are witnessing a war to control the Balkans" said Benn, "I am bitterly opposed to Milosevic because faced with a political problem he used force - which is exactly the same reason that I am against the Government's action".

Former Defence Minister Alan Clark, now Tory MP for Kensington, warned that backing the Kosovan Liberation Army was a poor choice.

"Many British servicemen regard the KLA as a bunch of thugs deeply involved in the drugs trade who are also operating various refugee operations into this country" said Clark.

Meanwhile London Mayor hopeful Ken Livingstone supported the action claiming that he was surprised that Milosevic had not already been indicted for war crimes.

What do you think?
Are NATO countries right to bomb Serbia?
- Have your say today on our News Talkback bulletin board.

Blair's Bombs Seek to End 'Vile Oppression'
- British PM takes Britain to war against Serbs

THE NATO ASSAULT on Yugoslavia will continue through today following a night of air attacks on targets in Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair agreed with US President Bill Clinton and other NATO leaders that a series of bombing raids were required. This resulted from perceived Serbian intransigence at accepting a UN based peace plan for Kosovo.

'We have a duty to see justice is done' said Blair.

Yesterday eight B-52 USAF left bases in England aircraft to take part in the raids. They launched airborne based cruise missiles to target Yugoslav air defence and command and control points. This is a mirror of the most recent episode of strikes on Iraq.

What do you think?
Are NATO countries right to bomb Serbia over autonomy for Kosovo?
- Have your say today on our News Talkback bulletin board.

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