UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- Russia urged the U.N. Security Council on Thursday to investigate civilian deaths in Libya from NATO's bombing campaign, a move the United States immediately dismissed as "a cheap stunt" to distract from Moscow's failure to condemn the Syrian government's ongoing killing of protesters.
The sharp exchange reflected the deep division in the council over the NATO campaign which the U.S., France, Germany and others hailed for saving hundreds of thousands of Libyan lives, but which Russia, China and the African Union have strongly criticized.
Russia and its supporters argue that NATO misused the limited council resolution imposing a no-fly zone and authorizing the protection of civilians as a pretext to promote regime change in Libya. Libya's longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi was ousted after 42 years, captured and killed in October.
Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said a council-mandated investigation is essential "given the fact that initially we were led to believe by NATO leaders there are zero civilian casualties of their bombing campaign."