Russia’s top diplomat believes that US-NATO missiles near the Russian border would increase tension and worsen the risk of escalation.
By Jonny Tickle
Ukraine’s possible accession to NATO poses “unacceptable threats” to Moscow, including the possibility that missile defense systems could be placed directly on the Russian border, the country’s foreign minister said on Friday.
Speaking to Bosnian newspaper Oslobodjenje, Sergey Lavrov said that all parties need to reduce the “degree of confrontation” caused by American officials and their work with their “Ukrainian protégés.”
“The policy of dragging Kiev into NATO with the prospect of missile strike systems appearing near our borders poses unacceptable threats to Russian security, provoking serious military risks for all parties involved, up to and including large-scale conflict in Europe,” he said.
Lavrov’s comments to the Bosnian outlet come as relations between Russia and the US-led military bloc remain at a crisis point.
The recent uptick in tensions follows reports that Moscow is massing troops on the Ukrainian border, with some Western media outlets suggesting an invasion is around the corner. NATO has repeatedly warned Russia that it is preparing a set of sanctions that would be imposed if any military action is taken.
Earlier this week, at an expanded meeting of the Ministry of Defense, Russian President Vladimir Putin explained that, if NATO infrastructure appeared in Ukraine, it would only take 7-10 minutes for a missile to reach Moscow, stressing that this was “a serious challenge for Russia.”
Last Friday, Moscow pitched a list of proposals to the US and NATO in the form of two draft treaties. The documents consist of a list of security guarantees, including a demand that NATO won’t expand eastwards into states that were formerly a part of the USSR. If signed, it would also see troop movements near the Russian border be limited and prevent missiles from being placed near the frontier.