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Russia to ask NATO about expansion plans
Cat : Peace And Security
Date : 2006-10-26 19:03:06                      Reader : 347

that of the past. If NATO continues its activities, then a new anti-NATO pact must be elaborated for sake of balance and equilibrium. But the question to NATO is: what is its job and what is UN job today?!

WNN 26-10-2006

Oct. 25, 2006, 4:55PM
Russia to ask NATO about expansion plans

By VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV Associated Press Writer
© 2006 The Associated Press

MOSCOW — A top Russian diplomat said Wednesday that Moscow would raise its concerns about NATO's expansion and its decision to bolster ties with Georgia during talks with NATO's chief.

NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer was expected to hold talks with President Vladimir Putin and other Russian officials Thursday.

Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko told the Interfax news agency that NATO's eastward expansion and its plans to embrace other ex-Soviet nations were causing concern in Moscow and would be raised during the talks.

"The admission of Russia's nearest neighbors to the alliance will seriously affect our political, military and economic interests and have a negative effect on the fragile situation in the problem-ridden regions," Grushko said, according to Interfax.

Grushko particularly referred to Georgia, saying NATO's decision to launch an "intensified dialogue" with the Caucasus nation that aspires to join the alliance in 2008 had been "interpreted by the Georgian authorities as an incentive to pursue a confrontational policy toward Russia."

Georgia's brief arrest of four purported Russian military officers on spying charges last month triggered the worst crisis in bilateral relations since Soviet times. Moscow imposed a transport blockade on its tiny southern neighbor and launched a massive crackdown on Georgian migrants in Russia _ sanctions the Kremlin has refused to drop despite Western calls for restraint.

Grushko said that Moscow was also exasperated by NATO member states' persistent refusal to ratify an amended version of the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty, or CFE, which limits the number of troops, aircraft, tanks and other heavy non-nuclear weapons in Europe. "Russia has said clearly that it will no longer tolerate this," Grushko said.

Russia, worried about the prospect of NATO bases on its doorstep, urged NATO members, particularly the ex-Soviet Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, to ratify the 1999 version of the treaty meant to reflect changes since the 1991 Soviet breakup.

NATO members have refused to do that until Russia abides by its commitment to withdraw troops from the former Soviet republics of Moldova and Georgia. Moscow said the link was irrelevant.

Grushko signaled that if NATO continues to ignore the amended version of the treaty, Russia could opt out of the pact altogether. "The current CFE Treaty, which has lost any connection with reality ... provides for withdrawing in case of an emergency situation that threatens the vital security interests of the signatories," he said.

Grushko also said that U.S. plans to deploy components of missile defense in Europe could affect Russia's security and would also feature in talks.

Russia signed a partnership agreement with NATO in 2002, outlining cooperation in counterterrorism, nonproliferation, peacekeeping and other fields. At the same time, it has continued to voice concern about the alliance's eastward expansion.

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