As the international community continues to debate the role it should take in the Libyan unrest, Russia’s Envoy to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin expresses concern over NATO’s plans for military intervention in the country.
He tells RT that certain countries are pushing to get involved in Libya because they are reliant on its oil resources.
RT: Do you support NATO and EU backing for Libya’s rebels?
Dmitriy Rogozin: In principle, what usually happens is this: in order to start military operations, you have to ask someone to invite you. So, it’s not proper to come in uninvited. There should be a side doing the inviting. For this side to look presentable, it has to be legitimized.
What is now happening with the Libyan opposition is approximately the same thing. The problem lies elsewhere. No one knows who those people are. In reality we know just one person who formerly worked as part of Mr. Gaddafi’s entourage.
But all others are total strangers. More than that, there is no information regarding the degree of consolidation of the Libyan opposition. The case in point, quite likely, is different centers in different provinces of that country. This is why, in my view, the fact that separate European countries, like France, for example, or the UK did legitimize the opposition may lead to Europe or the West as a whole being involved, even against its own will, into someone else’s civil conflict. It’s a big problem. It must be said, incidentally, that the latest events in Libya indicate that Mr. Gaddafi is not going to surrender quickly.
There are loyalty problems in his armed forces and the police force, but as long as the Libyan army retains its positions in Libya and wins victories over the Libyan opposition, it is a mistake to say that the collapse of the Gaddafi regime is just round the corner. This is why, to my mind, the West so far has been playing games for its own consumption. They hold meetings with all sorts of people, trying to invest in their powers, but that has nothing to do with the agenda of stabilizing the situation in that North African country.
I think no one knows today what scenario is the optimal one. The problem is, we don’t have the facts or enough information. The conflict inside Libya has become protracted.
Many Arab leaders say as much. Even though the attitude to Mr. Gaddafi in the Arab world has always been highly complex, and despite the pressure that France and the UK are bringing to bear on the Arab League, we cannot say that everyone would be wildly enthusiastic to see a Western invasion in Libya. There is yet another important aspect that Arab analysts are warning about. They say that Mr. Gaddafi, if faced with foreign intervention, will immediately become a martyr, a victim in the eyes of the whole Arab world and a very popular person. And no one in fact wants this to happen.
RT: Are you concerned by France’s call for aerial bombardment of the country?
DR: It’s a big problem how to do it. From the technical military point of view, NATO doesn’t have a clear idea about the level of training and quality of Libya’s air defenses. Let’s assume that a country which begins military intervention by launching an air attack will lose several combat aircraft. Libya possesses some sufficiently modern, including portable, anti-aircraft missile systems. Who will bear responsibility for the first air casualties? No one. This is why, I believe, two processes are currently in progress.
On the one hand, aggressive rhetoric is used and political consultations are held inside the Western states and in the UN Security Council. Work is under way to identify reputable opposition figures.
On the other, military planning is in progress that considers very different options.
AWACS planes are in the air; space reconnaissance systems and naval reconnaissance are fully operational as well, trying to reveal the real situation in Libya, the organization and strength of the Libyan armed forces, and the situation within the framework of regional, provincial conflicts. The info is fed to NATO’s relevant military structures but its readiness for action is equal to zero.
RT: Libya is rich in oil. Is that why the US is so interested in the country?
DR: Everyone says so. I think if Libya were just a banana-growing country, there wouldn’t be so much interest in its domestic situation, including in the humanitarian sphere.
Of course, Libya is a big enough energy supplier to Europe. Certain countries, like Italy, for example, are heavily dependent on Libyan deliveries. Others are not so much dependent, but either way, Libya’s share is considerable. We know that NATO, for example, puts energy security matters at the top of its main agenda.
For this reason I think that this factor has a most direct bearing on the speed of the West’s decision-making regarding Libya. No one wants to let this conflict become protracted. All of them want it to be over as quickly as possible so as to be reassured about guarantees of energy supplies to Europe. I think it’s a very important problem.
Aside from that, there is yet another factor. Some major Western oil companies with an axe to grind, where their concessions and oil development projects in Libya are concerned, are quite likely to be pushing certain Western countries towards hasty decisions with regard to an intervention in Libya.
They think they’ll be able to follow the military and thus get unique access to Libya’s oil riches. So this factor is also taken into account and discussed.
RT: Would unilateral invasion by NATO be a war crime?
DR: Of course. Any invasion would, be it an initiative of NATO as a whole, or of any NATO member state. If an action is not authorized by the UN, it is an illegal intervention.
What I am saying now is not a warning. It is just a statement of fact. As a matter of fact, many people inside NATO agree with Russia. Note the position of the US on the situation in Libya – Washington is being very restrained, if not passive, here. Some are laughing at the overly-zealous France and the UK, saying that those two are running ahead of Uncle Sam. Nobody knows why this is happening and whether there is some common scenario in place.
I think that the US administration would not like to take any hasty actions against Libya now. Most likely, they are monitoring the situation closely, and preparations to possible military engagement are perhaps in progress, but a new war is dangerous for the US now. Especially now, with presidential elections looming ahead.
RT: Are there any conditions under which you would support foreign military intervention in Libya?
DR: Facts, that’s all. Only facts on the table of the UN Security Council saying that weapons were used against peaceful civilians in Libya, or heavy military machinery was used against humanitarian targets, may force the Security Council to consider measures more substantial than political sanctions against the regime.
The thing is, we don’t have any facts. We only have reports from BBC, CNN, and other media, featuring some machine gunner firing his machine gun in the air. At the same time, we don’t see any aircraft attacking; instead, we see people applauding the gunner for looking so cool. If there were a real aircraft attack in progress, they wouldn’t be applauding there.
The footage we see on American and British channels looks fake. They create an illusion of military action. Where are the aircraft? Where are the bomb raids? Where are the destruction and casualties we hear so much about? If all that it true, evidence should be now on the table of the Security Council.
Doing that requires carrying out the decisions already passed by the Council, including the creation of special committees that should establish the facts. Unless the facts are established, the Council cannot take the responsibility of judging something that doesn’t exist.
RT: How are the rebels holding out against Gaddafi’s regular army? Are they already being aided by the West?
DR: We assume that something is being done by the rebels and by the opposition and that the Special Forces that were used to evacuate citizens of Western countries from Libya have most likely remained there. There have been instances of the rebels themselves detaining members of Special Forces combat groups from the West.
We are not naïve and are well aware that some parts of special operations have long been done in Libya, on the side of the opposition.
Otherwise, Gaddafi, to whom most of the army and police forces are loyal, could long have clamped down on the opposition. Since he has not done so as yet, it is a question of secret and illegal military backing by Special Forces. This is my personal opinion. I have no facts yet, but I have experience and I can analyze the situation.
I can’t confirm this, but I think it’s true.
RT: In an ideal world, how integrated would NATO’s missile defense be integrated with Russia’s.
DR: What is missile interception? It’s to see the attack on you, to track it and then to shoot. What stage does the co-operation occur at? At the stage of exchanging information on transforming the risks into threats; then at the stage of detecting by the tracking stations of started the attack started; thirdly, at the stage of identification of the target – this attack may be across Russia towards Europe, or US bases, or across Europe on Russia.
So, tracking the identification of the targeting is the third task.
And the fourth task is to destroy the target jointly.
Some NATO skeptics tell us that, or Russo-skeptics, rather, tell us that NATO can’t be involved in the outsourcing of security for Europe. Well, it’s stupid, because Russia also means Europe. Russia is Europe and not only up to the Urals. In a political sense, it’s as far as the Far East.
Therefore, I do believe it’s our common European cause, and we should think strategy-wise about the people’s, but not our own egoistic, interests. Not to dabble in politics, but be politicians. This kind of system should be created in such a way so it could equally guarantee security both to Russia, on the one hand, and to its partners on the European continent, on the other.
And we still have time for that, let me emphasize this.