FILE PHOTO. Novi Sad during the bombing, 1999, Yugoslavia.
© WikipediaFILE PHOTO. Novi Sad during the bombing, 1999, Yugoslavia.
The West's military action was completely unacceptable, President of Russia has said on 25th anniversary

Russia's president Vladimir Putin has said that the US-led NATO alliance had started a war in the center of Europe in 1999, when it launched its bombing campaign against Yugoslavia.

A quarter century on, the agression deserves nothing but condemnation, Putin added.

The Russian leader made his comments in an interview for a documentary called 'Belgrade' being screened on Sunday and dedicated to the 25th anniversary since the start of the NATO airstrikes.

"What the West did was completely unacceptable. Without any resolution of the UN Security Council, they directly began a military operation, a war in fact, in the center of Europe, and with the bombing of the capital of [Yugoslavia], Belgrade," Putin told the Rossiya 1 channel.

NATO launched what it called Operation Allied Force on March 24, 1999, and bombed the country for 78 days on behalf of ethnic Albanian separatists in Kosovo. That province was then placed under a UN provisional government, while Security Council Resolution 1244 guaranteed Serbian sovereignty. In 2008, the US-backed Kosovo provisional government declared independence. Belgrade has never recognized this move.

According to official casualty figures by the Serbian government, the airstrikes in 1999 killed 2,500 civilians - including over 80 children.