Russia NATO envoy says steps to expansion are "point of no return"
(dpa) - Russia's firebrand NATO envoy on Tuesday voiced an eleventh-hour threat, calling Ukraine and Georgia's possible track toward entry into the Atlantic alliance a "point of no return."
NATO leaders are set to review offering the two post-Soviet states Membership Action Plan (MAP) status as a first step towards joining the alliance at a summit in Bucharest on Wednesday, which will be attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
But Russia's ambassador to NATO Dmitry Rogozin said Tuesday that Moscow viewed MAP status as "a point of a no return."
"If at the summit in Bucharest MAPs are granted to Ukraine and Georgia it will lead to a dramatic evolution in our relations," he was quoted by Interfax news agency as saying.
Rogozin rejected Western assurances that MAP did not yet constitute Georgia and Ukraine's full membership in NATO as "pure propaganda."
"For serious people, such reasoning has no value," he said.
In the runup to the Bucharest summit, Russia's relations with NATO have been increasingly strained over Western recognition of Kosovo's independence and Russia's decision to pull out of a key Cold-War-era arms control treaty in December.
Moscow has threatened to retarget its missiles at Kiev and drafted resolutions to recognize Georgia's breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia if either country moves toward NATO membership.