BELGRADE, March 12. /TASS/. NATO’s aggression against Serbia was aimed at tearing the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija away from the country, Serbian Minister for Innovation and Technological Development Nenad Popovic said during a video conference between Moscow and Belgrade, dubbed "The 20th Anniversary of NATO States’ Illegal Military Intervention in Sovereign Yugoslavia," broadcast from the Belgrade Media Center.
"NATO’s aggression against Serbia had only one goal: to tear Kosovo away from Serbia. However, they failed to achieve that goal. Kosovo and Metohija are still part of Serbia," Popovic said. He also pointed to the important role of Russia and Russian President Vladimir Putin in preserving Serbia’s territorial integrity.
According to the minister, more than 90% of Serbian citizens oppose the country’s accession to the North Atlantic Alliance. "We will continue to pursue a policy of military neutrality. Our country will never become a NATO member," Popovic stressed.
NATO bombing campaign
NATO launched a military operation against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia on March 24, 1999. NATO leadership claimed that the operation, codenamed Allied Force, was aimed at preventing the genocide of the Albanian population of Kosovo. According to NATO, member states carried out 38,000 sorties during the 78-day-long operation, 10,000 of which were aimed at conducting air strikes.
According to military experts, about 3,000 cruise missiles were launched and 80,000 tonnes of various bombs were dropped during the operation, including cluster munitions and depleted uranium rounds. Petrochemical facilities and oil refineries were bombed, which led to the pollution of rivers with toxic chemicals. Serbia estimates that the NATO bombing campaign killed 3,500 to 4,000 people, leaving about 10,000 wounded, two-thirds of them civilians. The country’s damage is estimated at up to $100 bln.