Russian officials are concerned about NATO’s growing military expansion in Eastern Europe, specifically with potential bases in Ukraine and Georgia.
At the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed fears that Ukraine could become a NATO member and called on Western countries not to cross the “red line” in relations with Russia.
“Not only did NATO came close to our borders, but we have a suspicion that tomorrow Ukraine will also be included in this organization, and radar and missile defense systems will be deployed on its territory,” Putin stated. “Well, there are some limits, you see—the red line cannot be crossed. Let’s also respect our interests.”
Also, Russia’s former envoy to NATO has warned that the military alliance has crossed a “red line” in efforts to bolster air defense capabilities in Eastern Europe.
Russia’s deputy foreign minister Alexander Grushko accused NATO on Tuesday of aggravating relations with Russia by bolstering its defenses in Europe.
“NATO countries are trying to find a balance between defense and dialogue, but they have crossed a red line,” the state-run RIA Novosti news agency cited Grushko as saying at the sidelines of the Valdai Discussion Club in Moscow.
Russia is afraid that the new military bases in Ukraine and Georgia can change the balance of power in the region and become a threat to Moscow.
It is worth recalling that Ukraine and Georgia are now an official NATO aspiring members, i.e. nations declaring aspirations to become full-fledged members of NATO. The status of “aspirant country” means that countries that declared their aspiration to accede to the alliance are first invited to join an intensified dialogue with NATO on the reforms needed for this.
Also, Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili stated that Georgia will become a member of NATO for 2021.
“We hope that in 2021, hundred years after Soviet occupation, Georgia will be a full-fledged member of NATO,” Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili stated during the conference “Cooperation for Welfare – Next Millennium’s Strategy.”
Kvirikashvili expressed hope that the civilized community and North-Atlantic Treaty Alliance would seceded in consolidation of the decision, which essentiality of security of the region and even of a larger scale.
“Georgia is ready for the challenge, Georgia works every day to become a member of the European family and a true member of Euro-Atlantic community,” Kvirikashvili noted.