Yugoslav officials Tuesday denounced international sanctions intended as punishment for its offensive in Kosovo, where a western strip of the separatist province has been turned into a war zone of burned houses and deserted villages.
In a statement issued by the official Tanjug news agency, Yugoslav officials called the sanctions a "strange and unreasonable decision."The statement was in response to decisions made by the European Union and the United States, within hours of each other on Monday, to ban new investments in Serbia and freeze its assets abroad.
"It's cynical to demand from Yugoslavia to withdraw troops from its own province and leave it to the mercy of Albanian terrorists," the statement said.
The officials also said they were offended that the sanctions were aimed only at Serbia, where Kosovo is located. Serbia's lone partner in the Yugoslav federation, Montenegro, is exempt because of its pro-Western leadership.
A prominent Kosovo Albanian, Nekibe Kelmendi, welcomed the new sanctions but said they were only a "small step."
Ethnic Albanians make up 90 percent of the 2 million people living in Serbia's southern province. More than 250 have died this year in clashes between government forces and the pro-independence Albanian militants, known as the Kosovo Liberation Army.
There were no immediate reports of new clashes Tuesday in Kosovo.
The international community has ruled out independence for Kosovo but wants Serbia to restore the autonomy the province once enjoyed.
The destruction in Kosovo has increased an international outcry for Serbia to stop using its police and army against ethnic Albanians.
NATO is considering military intervention, and U.S. State Department spokesman James Rubin said Monday the United States has not ruled out military options.
At the United Nations Tuesday, diplomatic sources said the United States and Britain plan to ask the Security Council, possibly next week, to approve the use of force against the Serbs to halt attacks on ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.