Meeting with Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Russian Minister of Defense Anatoly Serdyukov called for an immediate cease fire in Libya.
“Unfortunately, the recent developments in the country demonstrate that it is experiencing real difficulties which result in destroying civilian facilities and killing civilians,” Serdyukov said. “This shouldn't have been — this shouldn't have been let to be happen, and we informed our U.S. counterparts of our opposition, and we urge all belligerent parties to do their best to stop the violence, and we believe that an immediate ceasefire and a dialogue between the belligerent parties is the surest way to reliable security of civilians.”
Gates in response said “the coalition is going through great lengths to avoid civilian casualties and most of the targets are air defense targets isolated from populated areas. I also told him that I thought the significant military fighting that has been going on should recede in the next few days.”
The American defense secretary said he had assured his Russian counterpart “that the actions of the coalition were completely consistent with the UN Security Council resolution calling for the imposition of a no-fly zone and protecting civilian lives. The resolution of the Arab League and also of the Gulf Cooperation Council, which led to the Security Council resolution, were in fact in recognition that Colonel Gadhafi was killing large numbers of his own people.”
Gates later told reporters, “I’m a little curious, frankly, about the — about the tone that has been taken. It’s perfectly evident that the vast majority, if not nearly all, civilian casualties have been inflicted by Gadhafi. Most of our targets, virtually all of our targets are isolated non-populated areas, air defense sites, SA-5s, 2s, 3s and so on. And we’ve been very careful about this. And it’s almost as though some people here are taking at face value Gadhafi‘s claims about the number of civilian casualties, which as far as I’m concerned, are just outright lies.”