Russia’s armed forces chief warned Friday that Georgia and Ukraine’s desire to join NATO will force Russia to take military steps, Russian news agencies reported.“Russia will undoubtedly take measures to ensure its security near the state border. These will be both military and other measures,” Army General Yury Baluyevsky, chief of the country’s General Staff, said on Friday.
When asked to give details of the possible measures, Baluyevsky said that “We will wait, as the issue is ambiguous.”
At a summit in Bucharest last Thursday, NATO members decided to postpone offering Georgia and Ukraine the chance to join the NATO Membership Action Plan, a key step toward full membership, but promised to review the decision in December.
Moscow sees the expansion of NATO and the deployment of a US anti-missile shield in central Europe as threats to Russian security.
President Vladimir Putin said in February that Russia would consider directing its missiles at Ukraine if the neighboring state hosted missile defense facilities.
Baluyevsky said it was too early to talk about Ukrainian or Georgian entry into NATO.
“Ukrainians are unanimously against Ukraine joining NATO,” the military official said adding that in Georgia about 70% of the population is in favor of membership, but there is still time and this could change, RIA Novosti reports.
In this regard, Alexei Ostrovsky, the head of the State Duma committee on CIS affairs, said in a radio interview that Russia could claim the Crimea if Ukraine was admitted to NATO.
“The Russian Federation has legal grounds to revise agreements signed under Khrushchev,” he added.
Former Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, who grew up in Ukraine, made the Crimean Peninsula – a territory of 26,100 sq km washed by the Black and Azov seas – part of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1954. The peninsula had formerly been a part of the Russian Soviet Socialist Republic.