NATO likely to be planning ground operation in Libya - Russian diplomat

A French plan to use combat helicopters in the current NATO military action in Libya and the possibility that Britain will do the same likely mean that NATO is plotting a ground armed operation, Russian Permanent Envoy to NATO Dmitry Rogozin said in a television program on Tuesday.

"The declared transfer of French and British combat to combat ships that are positioned in Libyan waters raises even more questions. This is, from my point of view, extra evidence that this transfer of combat helicopters is, quite probably, part of preparations for individual actions in a ground operation," Dmitry Rogozin told Russia's Rossiya 24 television.

On Monday, French Defense Minister Gerard Longuet said that, like France, Britain would send combat helicopters to the vicinity of the Libyan coast for more precise aerial attacks. However, the British Minister of State for the Armed Forces Nick Harvey said the British government had not yet come to a definitive decision about this.

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe has said that use of helicopters in Libya would be completely in line with UN Security Council Resolution 1973.

[Source: Interfax, Moscow, 24May11]

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