Russia: NATO's expansion "will not be left without an answer"

Other News Materials 2 April 2008 14:59 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) - Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned Russia would not fail to react to NATO expansion eastward even as leaders of the alliance met in Bucharest to consider membership for Georgia and Ukraine on Wednesday.

Lavrov dubbed transatlantic alliance a "spoiled child" calling its further expansion eastward "artificial" and "absolutely unnecessary," news agency Interfax reported.

NATO expansion "will not be left without an answer," Lavrov said. "I assure you we are now readying various scripts to respond to the succession of events," he told lawmakers at Russia's Duma Wednesday.

Among possible scenarios, Lavrov said the foreign ministry was "carefully considering" a parliamentary resolution calling for Moscow's recognition of Georgia's two separatist regions, if it joined NATO.

The Russian Duma voted unanimously supported a resolution to speed forth recognition of the separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, amping tensions ahead of Wednesday's NATO summit to consider the Caucasus state for membership track.

"I assure you, most carefully studied will be given to the State Duma's request for expedient recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia," news agency Interfax quoted Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying.

He added that many recent factors would weigh in the decision, citing "Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence, which has created precedent" and the "inadmissibility of holding double standards."

The comments Wednesday highlighted questions surrounding Georgia's territorial stability as it's candidacy is under review at the summit of NATO leaders in Bucharest where Putin is also in attendance.

Threat of civil war in the Caucasus state have been foremost among Russia's vehement objection to Georgia's inclusion in NATO, which it views as the encroachment of a foreign military block along its borders.

Russia has long provided financial aid to Georgia's separatist regions and offered citizenship to many of the residents, but the post-Soviet state enjoys US-led support for its territorial integrity.

Speaking at the Duma on Wednesday, Lavrov called on Georgia to sign a cease fire and pull out its troops out of the Kodori gorge, a contested area along the internal border with Abkhazia.

"In answer, unfortunately, we more often than anything here anti-Russian rhetoric from Tbilsi," he said.