On October 29th, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said that Russia “will act” if Georgia and Ukraine join NATO.
“We are following with alarm NATO’s policy aimed at the active militarization of the European continent. We see efforts being made to involve more and more NATO member countries, I mean the Balkans first of all,” Shoigu said during a meeting with Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos.
Furthermore, Andrei Kelin, Director of the Department of European Cooperation of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that Ukraine and Georgia’s accession to NATO is possible, albeit unlikely. He was cited by UNIAN saying that their entry into the alliance would pose a colossal economic problem for Russia.
However, he was also cited saying that as per NATO requirements, countries that are currently into a territorial dispute or in a conflict are not eligible to join.
“In the current situation, neither of the two countries complies with these principles, but the attitude toward these principles is changing. We see this in the example of the latest extensions, especially in Montenegro. More is being done to please the political expediency of Western countries,” Kelin said. “They began to approach these principles very flexibly. What will happen if Ukraine and Georgia join NATO? For us, this will be a colossal military and economic problem.”
According to Krelin, Russia will have to “build a defensive belt near our third capital, Sochi,” which will require spending “enormous resources to prevent possible actions by a conditional enemy.”
He also stressed that this is doubly valid for Ukraine and that such spending would be “inevitable.”
“The length of the Ukrainian border is colossal – it is not equipped at all and we will have to build defensive echelons there… in relation to Ukraine,” Kelin said.
The diplomat, however, conceded that the situation “does not dictate that this can happen in the near future, but if these relations have been launched and if our Western once-used-to-be-partners follow the path of further confrontation, this can happen and we will have to prepare for this very seriously.”
Both Georgia and Ukraine have compliated relations with Russia.
At least a part of Russia’s concerns stem from the US withdrawal from the INF treaty. According to the Kremlin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov, Russian President Vladimir Putin looks forward to discussing US plans to exit the treaty with US President Donald Trump when the two meet in Paris on November 11th.
The Express cited, the Kremlin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov:
“There are still a lot of questions concerning strategic stability, even more so in the context of the stated US intention to leave the INF. All of this will of course be on the agenda.”
Earlier, on July 19, 2018, Putin warned NATO against cultivating closer ties with Ukraine and Georgia. He claimed that such a move would irresponsible and would pose consequences for the alliance.
While speaking to Russian diplomats in Moscow, the Russian president said that there was a need to restore trust in Europe. He also spoke against NATO’s alleged attempts to deploy new bases and military infrastructure near Russia’s border. Attempts that have become apparent since then.
“We will respond appropriately to such aggressive steps, which pose a direct threat to Russia,” said Putin. Our colleagues, who are trying to aggravate the situation, seeking to include, among others, Ukraine and Georgia in the orbit of the alliance, should think about the possible consequences of such an irresponsible policy.”
Putin said that he had discussed the issue with Trump at their summit in Helsinki on July 16th. There will possibly be developments in this regard after both leaders meet on November 11th in Paris during the 60th World War I commemoration.