Russia warns against `risky` Libya ground operation

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Moscow was worried by signs of a move towards a ground conflict involving Western forces in Libya.

Last Updated: Apr 21, 2011, 22:54 PM IST

Moscow: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei
Lavrov on Thursday warned against a Western ground operation in Libya, saying it would be an "extremely risky" action with
unpredictable consequences.

Speaking in the Slovenian capital Ljubljana, Lavrov said
that Moscow was worried by signs of a move towards a ground
conflict involving Western forces in Libya.

"We are extremely concerned about what is happening in
Libya," Lavrov said in comments made one day France announced
it had already sent military advisers into insurgent-held
eastern Libya.

Lavrov noted that foreign powers were "clearly being
drawn into a conflict, but this one on the ground."

"We consider such steps to be extremely risky and fraught
with unpredictable consequences," he added in comments
reported by Russian news agencies.

Russia abstained from a UN resolution authorising the use
of international force to protect civilians from Libyan leader
Muammar Gaddafi`s advancing forces.

It has since argued that the level of air strikes carried
out by Western powers was not authorised by the UN action and
backed Gaddafi`s claims of heavy civilian casualties in the

Various Russian officials have previously voiced fears
that the air campaign could lead to a Western ground invasion
aimed at removing Gaddafi from power, which Moscow stresses
was never the resolution`s intent.

The UN statement permits the use of force to protect
civilians but explicitly forbids a "foreign occupation force".

Lavrov said today that past examples of nations sending
military instructors to train local soldiers became preludes
to ground operations that resulted in mass warfare and deaths.

"There are cases in history when everything started with
the sending of instructors and then everything went on for
many years and led to the deaths of hundreds and thousands of
people on both sides," Russia`s top diplomat said.

On Tuesday, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said
London would send 12 military advisers to eastern Libya, but
that they would not be involved in training or arming the
rebels, or help in planning operations.