A no-fly zone over Libya can’t be quickly authorized by the United Nations Security Council unless the air forces and strategy for enforcing it are clearly defined, Russia’s ambassador to the world body said.
“To say we need to act quickly, as fast as possible, but not to provide answers to those fundamental questions is not really helping, it is just beating the air,” Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters today after a three-hour closed- door council meeting in New York. “You need to be sure any decision the council takes is not going to exacerbate the military-political situation in Libya.”
Lebanon’s Ambassador, Nawaf Salam, briefed the council on the Arab League’s decision on March 12 to support the no-fly zone over Libya. He told reporters he would present a draft resolution authorizing it in the coming days. France and Britain have prepared such a text.
“These are legitimate questions,” Salam said, in reference to the points raised by Churkin. “Unfortunately, we cannot answer.” Salam said a no-fly zone “may stop Qaddafi from flying his planes and attacking his own population, and it may not.”
Russian support for the proposal is critical because it is a permanent member of the Security Council with veto power. China’s ambassador, who may also veto the proposal, made no public statement after the meeting.
France’s Ambassador Gerard Araud said he disagreed that all of the details need to be worked out before with Security Council acts. He cited the 1993 UN resolution authorizing a no- fly zone over Bosnia, which didn’t specify any operational details.
Araud said none of the Security Council’s 15 member governments stated opposition to a no-fly zone, and that “it is possible” it will be adopted this week.
“We are moving forward,” Araud said. “The problem for us is the urgency. The Qaddafi forces are moving forward. We would prefer to act as soon as possible. We would prefer that our partners on the Security Council would have the same sense of urgency we have.”
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