This post first appeared on Russia Insider
Next week, the world will mark the 20th anniversary of the barbaric bombing of Yugoslavia. Until the end of the last century, a large and prosperous European power, Yugoslavia, was located in the Balkans, with a strong army and a special way of life. However, ethnic conflicts, inflated with the help of the United States and NATO, ruined the country.
In addition, the Americans also began to bomb the former capital of Yugoslavia, Belgrade. During the air strikes, the Americans used cluster bombs and depleted uranium bombs. The result was 1,700 dead, about the same number of missing, 1.5 million refugees, hundreds of enterprises and bridges destroyed, and the economy lying in ruins.
Later, Carla Del Ponte, the ex-prosecutor of the UN, International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and a citizen of Switzerland, wrote: "It became clear to me and my staff that NATO is either hiding important information on target selection and other decisions taken or only those NATO member states whose governments won't share it posses this information. We were not given access to the documents. In addition, I discovered that I had reached the boundaries of the political universe where the tribunal was allowed to operate. All of my advisors agreed on one thing: an investigation into NATO is impossible."
The story of Yugoslavia proves one simple thing... If America feels that it's invincible, it will bomb. It will bomb, destroy, undermine, deploy troops and missiles, tear up treaties, and impose sanctions. Even after what the USA had done in Yugoslavia, Putin, having become the leader of Russia in the 21st century, was ready to start from scratch and made attempts to build relations with the West, proposing to build a common Europe — From Lisbon to Vladivostok. But the West refused. America continued to destroy states and threaten everyone. Now, when Russia is stronger, America has fewer opportunities to create lawlessness. Now, aggression against Yugoslavia, if the country had survived to this day, would have already been impossible.
But it turned out the way it did. We can only remember the lessons of the past.
Our staff correspondent, Alexander Rogatkin, from Belgrade.
“This is what I call the Serbs and the Russians being brothers in arms.”
This is the most famous Russian volunteer in Serbia and the most well-known in Russia colonel of the Serbian air defense meeting in the Belgrade Aviation Museum. There are the exhibits of the one that bombed…
Albert Andiev, former volunteer: "They bombed our barracks like 50 times. I don't know why though. They're lunatics I think."
...while the other was used to shoot them down. That's why the museum pieces aren't in good condition.
- Can you tell where the missile hit it?
- The missile hit the left wing cutting it off completely, and the jet went down.
Parts of the Nighthawk stealth aircraft with the cockpit and the pilot's seat are now shown to everyone. The secret plane's electronics have gone missing. The Americans say that they're somewhere in Russia. The downed pilot, Dale Zelko, was rescued and 10 years later came to meet with Colonel Zoltan Dani.
Zoltan Dani: "I asked him: "Why did you bomb my country?" He said: "I thought we were bringing freedom to you." But when he saw everything, he realized that he had been used."
The stealth aircraft, which managed to drop two bombs on Belgrade, was detected by the old Soviet S-125 Neva missile system which was developed in the late 50s.
Zoltan Dani: "It was enough to shoot one of these.”
The “invisible” Nighthawk was perfectly visible on the radar in the VHF band.
Zoltan Dani: "We didn't know it was the F-117. It was just a target like any other target for us. When we had the target designation mark on it, when it was within range, I just ordered "fire". The guidance officer pressed the fire button, two missiles were launched but only one hit the target.”
When, after the first bombing of military targets, the Serbs refused to fulfill the NATO ultimatum, the bombing of civilian facilities began: the bombs hit hospitals, maternity hospitals, and the television center.
Here, almost everything has remained as it was that very night 20 years ago. Announcers were recording in this room. As you can see, there are sound-absorbing panels on the walls. At these tables, now covered with a layer of dust, journalists were working. There were editing rooms where editors were preparing the news for the morning air. Now, everything's empty. Several cruise missiles showed the world what freedom of speech is in NATO's opinion.
Miroslav Medich: “Here's the entrance to my brother's room. The room doesn't exist anymore.”
Miroslav Medich worked in this television center as an editor. That night, it was his brother's shift. He said that there was nothing left of his brother and his colleague. They had nothing to take DNA from.
Miroslav Medich: “My brother and his colleague don't have graves. We come here like to a cemetery — to place flowers, to light a candle. I know that the souls of the innocent victims are still here. They're waiting for the truth to triumph. We as Orthodox can forgive them. But we can never forget what they did to us.”
When NATO aircraft began to bomb bridges in Belgrade, the inhabitants of the city came to their defense, showing the whole world that the bombs were being dropped on civilians.
Vladimir Mayorov, former volunteer: "People came to this bridge and others. On the right, there's an old green railway bridge. People went to it as well. People were standing there all the time as human shields.”
A former volunteer and now a Serbian truck driver driving across Europe remembers the spring of 1999.
Vladimir Mayorov: “It was terrible. They bombed hospitals, trains. They were civilians. They said the trains were transporting soldiers but they were civilians.”
Since the early 90s, Croatia, Slovenia, and Bosnia were removed from Yugoslavia. NATO aviation began to help the Muslim Bosnians. In 1995, they delivered the first strikes against the Serbs' positions and their cities.
Aleksandr Kravchenko, former volunteer: "They wanted to see the reaction, and it was the prologue to 1999 when there were already massive bombings on the European country."
They try to come to Bosnian Vysegrad every year. Here, the Second Volunteer Corps fought. Russians held a defense on Mount Zaglavak. A strategic location. On this mountain, you can still find traces of the fierce battles. Here's a grenade launcher container. You can see mine warning signs. Here, the Russian volunteers suffered the heaviest losses. They built a cross out of these grenade launchers at the place where Konstantin Bogoslovsky died. He was a young man who died far from his homeland.
The first Russian blood for Serbia was shed in the 19th century when several thousand Russian officers came here to help the rebels against the Ottoman Empire. Unfortunately, the uprising was defeated, and almost half of the volunteers remained forever in Serbian soil. In the village of Gorny Adrovac, on the site of the death of Colonel Nikolay Raevsky, the Church of the Holy Trinity was built at the beginning of the last century with money bequeathed by his mother. Nikolai Raevsky is believed to be a prototype of Vronsky from "Anna Karenina".
Topitsa Stojanovic, watchman of the church: "Here Raevsky was killed. The colonel's heart remained here but his mother took his body to his homeland."
The names of 40 volunteers remained forever on the memorial plaque in the Holy Trinity Church, the residence of the Russian Orthodox Church in Belgrade. The walls here also keep traces of NATO bombing. The church is only a few meters from the destroyed television center.
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