Muslim Times(Web Desk) – Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has criticized NATO for a decision to accept Georgia as a new member, saying the country’s potential accession to the Western military bloc will trigger “a terrible conflict.”
Medvedev made the remarks in an interview with Russia’s Kommersant newspaper on Monday, on the eve of the 10-year anniversary of a brief Russo-Georgian war.
Medvedev did not specify whether the conflict that he said would result from Georgian membership in NATO would involve Russia, but he made references to Georgia’s breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and seemed to mean that NATO would become involved in the dispute over those regions.
Russia recognizes those territories as independent states.
Shortly after the Russo-Georgian war back in 2008, NATO agreed to the admission of Georgia, which shares a border with Russia.
Medvedev, who was Russia’s president at the time of the war, called NATO’s decision to admit Tbilisi “an absolutely irresponsible standpoint” and “a threat to peace.”
“We all understand that on Georgia’s territory, there is a sort of pressure. Georgia considers neighboring territories or, from our point of view, states, to be its own territories… And will this country be accepted into the military bloc? Do we understand what it will lead to? It can provoke a terrible conflict,” he said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has previously warned NATO about the move, saying it would have unspecified consequences for the Western military alliance.
Georgian politicians are keen for their country to join NATO but have so far seen been unable to secure accession because under NATO rules, countries with territorial conflicts cannot join the alliance.
In his Monday’s remarks, Medvedev also voiced Moscow’s oft-expressed concern about NATO’s eastward expansion — toward Russian borders.
“In this case, this is not only about strategic nuclear weapons but tactical nuclear weapons [which become closer to Russia and], which gain the quality of strategic weapons by moving closer toward the Russian border; and also conventional weapons, which can cause colossal damage because of their high-precision characteristics,” Medvedev said. “In other words, NATO expansion is by no doubt a threat to the Russian Federation.”
NATO has been holding regular military drills in countries near Russia. Moscow considers the drills and the deployments of personnel and materiel as provocations and a threat to its peace.