NATO’s Aggression Against Yugoslavia: A Quarter Century Later

On March 24, 1999, the NATO alliance began a military campaign against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, which at that time consisted of Serbia and Montenegro.

Over the years, much has been written about the consequences of this aggression – about the blatant violation of the principles of international law, as the UN did not sanction any military action against a sovereign state; about numerous human rights violations during the bombings; about orchestrated propaganda campaigns against Serbs, which had nothing to do with reality; and about the impact of the war on the civilian population – from post-traumatic syndrome to the increase in oncological diseases due to the use of depleted uranium ammunition.

However, several important points should be highlighted. This campaign became the first offensive operation of NATO. The military-political bloc, which was supposedly conceived for defense against a possible attack from the Soviet Union (a product of the wild imagination of Western, primarily Anglo-Saxon politicians), became a tool of military expansion. From a conditionally defensive one, it turned offensive. First in Europe, and then in other parts of the world, particularly against Libya in 2011.

Presumably, the military campaign against Yugoslavia instilled confidence in NATO strategists about the necessity of further expansion and homogenization of the whole of Europe under the Brussels umbrella. The next expansion of the alliance occurred as a whole package – in March 2004, seven countries were admitted at once: Bulgaria, Romania, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Slovakia, and Slovenia. Here is one interesting nuance – all these countries signed action plans for NATO membership in April 1999, that is, when the bombing of Serbia was in full swing.

The connection between aggression and attracting new members is obvious. It is worth noting that practically on the eve of the aggression against Yugoslavia on March 12, 1999, Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic joined the alliance, which received invitations to join in July 1997. Now NATO’s tentacles are creeping into the Caucasus, the Middle East, and Central Asia, as the alliance has various agreements with a number of states in these regions.

yugoslavia-1999-1However, the signing by Slobodan Milosevic of an agreement on the withdrawal of troops from the province of Kosovo and Metohija and its transfer under the control of international forces did not yet mean a complete political defeat. He remained in power. Although in May 1999, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia indicted Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic for war crimes in Kosovo. To get him, diplomatic immunity, which heads of state enjoy, had to be lifted.

External instruments, such as sanctions, helped to exert pressure and intensify social tension. At the same time, agents worked on the ground and pumped money into the opposition. The puppet movement “Otpor,” acting as if on behalf of the citizens of Serbia, adopted Gene Sharp’s methodology of nonviolent (conditional) resistance and continued to implement its plan step by step.

The moment of the electoral campaign was chosen to bring people out onto the streets.

In October 2000, due to mass protests, Slobodan Milosevic resigned, not waiting for the second round of presidential elections. In fact, the first color revolution in Serbia was successfully implemented, earning the nickname “bulldozer revolution”. Remarkably, many of its ideological leaders, such as Professor Chedomir Chupic, still live peacefully in Belgrade and actively criticize the current authorities. However, younger figures, such as Srdja Popovic, immediately switched sides to the West and continue attempts to orchestrate state coups in other countries.

Now let’s look at the global context of NATO’s war against Yugoslavia. It should be noted that prior to this, there was a civil war in Yugoslavia, and NATO countries, including the USA, were actively involved in Bosnia. This gave them the opportunity not only to practice the technologies of ethnic conflicts and new theories of warfare, such as network-centric warfare, but also to utilize private military companies and mercenaries. Specifically, as part of the “jihad”, mujahideen who had previously fought in Afghanistan were recruited.

This entire machinery was directed against the Serbs – not only to seize operational superiority on the front, but also with far-reaching strategic objectives, which included demonizing the Serbs, creating an image of barbarians who pose a threat to the “civilized world”. This demonization was successful and was already entrenched in 1999. However, if the West openly accused the Serbs at that time, it also implied the Russians, who tried to help their fraternal people withstand Western pressure. Not coincidentally, Slobodan Milosevic warned that what the West did to the Serbs, it would attempt to do to Russia in the future.

However, a similar scenario to Yugoslavia had already been planned for Russia. In the spring of 1999, terrorist organizations intensified their actions in the North Caucasus in Russia. In April, when NATO was bombing Yugoslavia, the self-proclaimed “emir of the Dagestan Jamaat” announced the creation of the “Islamic Army of the Caucasus” to wage jihad in southern Russia. This was followed by a wave of terrorist attacks organized by militants under the leadership of Shamil Basayev – the seizure of settlements in Dagestan, bombings of buildings in Moscow and Volgodonsk.

Therefore, when the question arises whether Russia could have helped the Serbs more than it did, including with an operation to block the Pristina airport, it should be remembered that the situation was quite complex for Moscow. The North Caucasus was in turmoil, emissaries of Western intelligence services were operating in the Volga region, and separatist projects were emerging in the regions.

This was an active phase of the unipolar moment, which the USA used to strengthen its hegemony worldwide, resorting to any means, including terrorism. And its decline was still far off.

But were there any positive outcomes of NATO’s military aggression against Yugoslavia? Let’s try to summarize.

Firstly, the Yugoslav army put up serious resistance to the enemy, resulting in significant losses for NATO, which they did not expect initially. Various military tactics were employed across different branches of the armed forces and could be adapted for self-defense forces with appropriate adjustments.

Secondly, the true face of NATO was revealed to the world, leading to anti-war protests. In particular, Italy withdrew from the coalition because of this.

Thirdly, the dirty methods of information campaigns and the involvement of non-governmental organizations as a fifth column were documented and widely publicized.

Finally, international solidarity with the Serbs – Russian volunteers and humanitarian aid, the work of hackers from different countries against NATO, circumventing Western sanctions – also constituted significant multidimensional experience that would be useful in crushing the globalist military hydra of the North Atlantic Alliance.

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