Russia has long opposed Ukraine’s membership in the Western military alliance. This week’s meeting is rekindling old debates.
As NATO leaders gather in Lithuania for a meeting dominated by the conflict in Ukraine, and Kyiv’s desire to join the military alliance, Russia has issued several threats.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told Al Jazeera on Tuesday: “We had the intention to weaken NATO because the United States, Britain and NATO as a whole had the intention to weaken Russia. Just look at what they have said over the years, they want to weaken our country.”
Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, warned that Moscow would take “appropriate measures” such as “NATO expansion”, adding that his country would defend “acceptable commitments”.
Speaking to reporters in the Russian capital on Tuesday, he said, in a statement reported by the Tass news agency, that the Kremlin was concerned about the speed with which Finland and Sweden abandoned their neutrality policy to join NATO.
Before the invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, Russia repeatedly warned the Western military not to make Ukraine a member of the Ukrainian state, saying that it did not want the alliance to come to its door.
Although there is a strong consensus among NATO members to support Ukraine’s future membership, other countries such as the US and Germany emphasize that Kyiv’s mission can be seriously considered after the Russian war.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the daily news: “Russia is perceived by them (NATO leaders) as an enemy, as an enemy. That is why the negotiations (in Vilnius) will be held.
“We are monitoring this very carefully, as most of the information that has been reported will be thoroughly reviewed so that we can take appropriate measures to ensure our safety.”
At the center of the two-day NATO summit is the issue of Moscow’s aggression in Ukraine – and how to deal with it.
Hours before the start, Russia attacked Kyiv with Iranian-made Shahed drones and air raid sirens sounded in the capital; Ukraine said it shot them all.
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said he hoped the group would “send a clear, united and positive message on the road to Ukraine,” but the comments were not strong enough to convince Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who said they were “absurd”. that the time of joining the agreement has not been established.
US President Joe Biden has said Washington and its allies are discussing sending more weapons and equipment to Ukraine’s military – promises that have seen Russia fight back.
By announcing more plans, the US has shown a lack of interest in ceasefire talks, Russian news agency RIA quoted Ambassador Konstantin Gavrilov as saying.
Gavrilov also warned that Europe will be the first to face “dangers” if the war escalates.
Ukraine, along with its Russian-dominated country last year, acted defiantly and applied for NATO membership last September.
“De facto, Ukraine is already in the alliance. Our weapons are the weapons of the alliance. Our principles are what the alliance believes in… Vilnius must confirm all this,” Zelenskyy said on the eve of the NATO meeting.
Meanwhile, the Russian ambassador to the US, Anatoly Antonov warned of “very bad consequences” between Moscow and NATO.
“The elections in the West are bringing obstacles that are impossible to solve serious political and military problems, which have a very serious impact on global security,” Antonov said on Monday, as reported by his ambassador on Telegram.