22nd Oct 2020

New Russian leader warns Europe over NATO expansion

Incoming Russian president Dmitry Medvedev has warned that expansion of NATO to include Ukraine and Georgia would affect Europe's security.

Mr Medvedev - set to be sworn in as a successor to Vladimir Putin in May - told the Financial Times that Moscow is "not happy about the situation around Georgia and Ukraine. We consider that it is extremely troublesome for the existing structure of European security."

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"I would like to say that no state can be pleased about having representatives of a military bloc to which it does not belong coming close to its borders."

"This is something that is even more difficult to explain when the vast majority of citizens of one of the states, for example of Ukraine, are categorically against joining NATO while the government of this state follows a different policy."

"At the very least in such situations it is usual to hold a referendum," the Russian president-elect said.

The two Russian neighbours' ambition to join the Western military bloc is due to be discussed by NATO leaders at a top summit in Bucharest on 2 - 4 April.

Georgia and Ukraine are hoping to get approval for their membership action plans (MAP). This would be considered as a signal that their application bid is on the right track.

At next week's summit, the Alliance is also planning to give the green light to Albania, Croatia and possibly also Macedonia if a solution is found on the name for the ex-Yugoslav country, currently in dispute over the issue with Greece.

Russia a \"European-type democracy\"

Earlier this month, Mr Medvedev won a landslide victory in the Russian presidential election with the active support of Mr Putin whose policies he had pledged to follow. Mr Putin is expected to become the country's prime minister.

"The incumbent president is an effective leader and he's ready and able to continue to work to advance the development of our country, to make sure our development continues in the way set out eight years ago," Mr Medvedev told the Financial Times.

He argued that it would be a democratic path despite several analysts suggesting the opposite.

"Russia is a European country and Russia is absolutely capable of developing together with other states that have chosen this democratic path of development," the new Russian leader maintained.

Diplomatic tussle over Georgia and Ukraine NATO bids

Germany and other western European states are attempting to block Georgia and Ukraine from getting the green light to join NATO out of a fear of antagonising Russia, a German newspaper report says.

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