Speaking to the newspaper Izvestia, Sergey Ryabkov claimed that a succession of Soviet and Russian leaders were “repeatedly told” that there would be no further movement of NATO to the east, but the opposite has shown itself to be true.
“There should be no further expansion of NATO,” Ryabkov said. “Attempts to present things as if Russia does not have a right of a veto here are all untenable. We will stand our ground. If our opponents go against us, they will see that their security is not strengthened. The consequences for them will be dire.”
The deputy foreign minister’s warning comes as tensions on the frontier between Russia and Ukraine continue to rise, with the Kremlin accused of building up troops near the border. NATO has warned Moscow that any military aggression against Ukraine will be met with severe financial sanctions, while Russia has denied all accusations that it is planning an all-out offensive.
Ukraine has used the purported threat of Russian troops to attempt to push the US-led bloc into allowing Kiev to become a member state. Joining NATO is one of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s flagship foreign policy aims, and he has been working on achieving accession ever since his election in 2019. However, last month, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg suggested Kiev may have to wait for a much longer period of time.
“To be a NATO member, you need to meet the NATO standards,” Stoltenberg said. “We help them with organizing fighting corruption, but 30 allies have to agree, and we do not have a consensus agreement in NATO now on inviting Ukraine into becoming a full member.”
The Kremlin has repeatedly described Ukrainian membership as a red line that must not be crossed.
Also on Monday, Ryabkov spoke to news agency RIA Novosti, warning NATO and the US that a new round of confrontation could be on the horizon if Moscow’s demand for security guarantees is ignored.
“Lack of progress towards a political and diplomatic solution to this problem will lead to our response being military and technological,” Ryabkov said.
The security guarantees demanded by Russia not only include a legally binding document that would stop the expansion of NATO, but also an agreement not to deploy offensive weapons systems on the territories of neighboring countries.
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