Russia's top general called air strikes in Libya unsuccessful on March 26 and gave his opinion that a ground operation would likely be needed to topple the Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.
"Air (strikes) as I see it have not given them results," the chief of staff of Russia's armed forces, Gen. Nikolai Makarov told the Interfax news agency in Moscow.
"If their aim was to topple the regime of Gadhafi, then probably they will not manage without a ground phase," he was quoted as saying. "I would not rule it out."
He reaffirmed Russia's position that it would not take part in the international operation, saying that "there is not even any thought of this."
The general's comments came after Russia's envoy to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, warned on March 26 that any ground operation would be classified as an occupation of Libya.
Earlier this week, a Kremlin foreign policy adviser, Sergei Prikhodko, said Russia believed a ground operation would become inevitable if the air strikes got bogged down.
Russia abstained from last week's Security Council vote allowing a no-fly zone, while opting not to use its veto, and President Dmitry Medvedev has expressed concern about the "indiscriminate use of force."
Medvedev in a phone call on March 24 urged his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama to avoid civilian casualties and to limit the international operation to the wording of the U.N. resolution.
But in a rare rift, Medvedev publicly rebuked Prime Minister Vladimir Putin for using unacceptable language after the strongman premier harshly criticized the operation and compared it to a medieval call to crusades