I was more than a little bemused by the comments of George Foulkes in relation to SNP support for Kosovo independence (February 19).

It is, of course, disappointing that while we celebrate Kosovo as the 46th independent state in Europe, Mr Foulkes should launch such an ill-informed attack in defence of Nato action in 1999.

The simple fact is that the bombing of Serbia in 1999 was conducted without the approval of the United Nations Security Council and was a direct violation not only of the UN Charter but also of Article 1 of the Nato treaty itself, which requires Nato to settle any international dispute by peaceful means and to refrain from the threat or use of force, "in any manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations".

The bombing also had one inevitable consequence. The Serb military, almost powerless against the might of US air power, unleashed its fury on the defenceless civilian population of Kosovo, a fact Mr Foulkes and much of the media seem to gloss over when they claim that the bombing of Yugoslavia was launched to stop ethnic cleansing and atrocities. All the evidence shows that there were approximately 2000 casualties in Kosovo up to the time of the Nato bombing - by any standard, not an extraordinary number considering that a civil war had been raging since 1993. By contrast, the number of Yugoslavian civilians killed by the Nato bombing is reckoned to be well above 2000.

The UN estimated that close to 200,000 ethnic Albanians were displaced before the Nato air strikes - again, a deplorable figure but not surprising given that these people were driven from their homes as a result of the civil war. After the Nato bombs began to fall, more than 800,000 Kosovars were forced to flee from Serbian retaliation and from Nato bombs. So much for humanitarian intervention!

The decision to release air strikes without ground troops to protect the civilian population was a massive error of judgment, and the decision to withhold ground troops was a political and not a strategic one as President Bill Clinton did not feel the US population would stomach the potential loss of life. We should never forget that there were dreadful human and financial costs as a result of Nato's actions in Kosovo, including a dramatic acceleration in ethnic cleansing and murder in the province.

Alex Orr, Edinburgh.