Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has explained why the NATO aspirations of Ukraine were more concerning for Russia than those of Finland and Sweden, which officially announced on Sunday that they were looking to join the US-led military bloc.
“We have no territorial disputes with either Finland or Sweden. Ukraine could have potentially become a member of NATO, and in this case Russia would have had a territorial dispute with the state that participates in the alliance, which would have carried huge risks for the entire continent,” Peskov told reporters on Monday.
He was referring to the situation around Crimea, which overwhelmingly voted to split with Ukraine and become part of Russia during a referendum in 2014. However, Kiev has been calling the peninsula – which has a Russian-speaking majority – “occupied territory” and has vowed to eventually return control over it.
Making sure Ukraine becomes a neutral state that will never join NATO has been cited by Moscow as one of the main reasons for its ongoing military operation in the country.