‘Russia will respond pragmatically to NATO expansion’

April 2nd, 2008 - 7:43 pm ICT by admin  

RIA Novosti
Moscow, April 2 (RIA Novosti) Russia will respond pragmatically to NATO’s possible eastward expansion, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday. Lavrov’s comment came after US President George W. Bush earlier Wednesday urged his European allies in the Romanian capital Bucharest to meet the request of Ukraine and Georgia to initiate procedure to admit them as members of the alliance.

“This will not be unanswered. But we will respond in a pragmatic way, not like little school boys who were hurt and flee their classroom slamming the door to weep in a solitary place,” Lavrov said as the leaders of the alliance met in Bucharest to discuss membership for the two former Soviet republics.

“We are prepared for various scenarios,” he added.

Speaking at the NATO summit, Bush said, “My country’s position is clear - NATO should welcome Georgia and Ukraine into the Membership Action Plan (MAP).”

MAP is a preliminary procedure that leads to full NATO membership.

However, France and Germany and some other countries have been reluctant to admit the two countries into the action plan saying they do not meet accession criteria.

They are also unwilling to provoke Russia, relations with which plunged to a post-Cold War low over the bloc’s ongoing expansion towards its borders and US missile plans for Europe.

Bush said: “The Cold War is over. Russia is not our enemy. We are looking to a new security relationship with Russia.”

Bush also said he remained committed to deploying missiles in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic and would press Russia to drop its opposition at talks with President Vladimir Putin in his holiday residence in Sochi April 6.

He reiterated that missile shield elements in Europe would be designed to contain possible attacks from “rogue” states like Iran, and were not aimed at Russia. Moscow treats the plans as a direct threat to its security.

Bush said the United States and Russia could join hands in missile defence and arms control adding Russian radar stations in Azerbaijan and south Russia, earlier proposed by Moscow as an alternative to new facilities in Europe, could be part of a joint missile defence system.

Russia is currently studying US proposals to ease its missile defence concerns, which it praised as “measures to raise transparency”. But Lavrov said earlier this month the best way to address Moscow’s concerns was to give up the missile shield plans.

Bush and Putin could also meet on the sidelines of the NATO summit to run till April 4.
RIA Novosti

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