Vladimir Putin’s government has described the entry of Ukraine into NATO as the worst-case scenario as a fierce row breaks out over Kyiv’s bid to join the powerful western military bloc. Russia has been engaged in a low-running conflict in the Donbas, eastern Ukraine which has claimed more than 14,000 lives. The Kremlin has said that Ukraine joining the NATO pact would be a “red line” for Russia’s national interests.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Parisian TV channel France 5: “Ukraine’s accession to NATO would be the worst-case scenario.
“This is a scenario that goes beyond the red lines of Russia’s national interests.
“This is a scenario that could force Russia to take active measures to ensure its own security.
“Of course, we can understand your feelings.
“But we prefer that you Europeans become better informed.
“Because, before the Russian troops were moved to that region, there were large NATO exercises held near the Russian border.
“Everyone talks about the concentration of Russian troops all the time, but nobody talks about the concentration of NATO troops.”
He added: “It is not clear whether Americans will stay in Europe and continue to defend Europeans against those ‘terrible Russians’.”
“Because they, they don’t they cannot veto, what neighbors can do.
“We will not return to an age where we had spheres of influence where big powers decided what small neighbours could do.”
It comes as Russia took the dramatic move of booting out NATO’s mission to Moscow amid escalating tensions.
The Kremlin’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced: “In response to NATO’s actions, we are suspending the work of our permanent mission to NATO.”