Russia 'aims to stop Ukraine joining NATO', expert says

BERLIN – Russia’s move into Crimea is aimed at preventing Ukraine from joining NATO, according to a senior expert from the European Council on Foreign Relations think-tank.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, ECFR Senior Policy Fellow Dr. Stefan Meister said: “A pro-European government in Kiev which is not under the influence in Russia is raising fears among the political elites in Moscow.”

“Russia fears that the pro-European government in Kiev will eventually bring Ukraine into NATO. With geopolitical calculations, Russia is trying to prevent Ukraine’s integration into NATO, in the way it did in the past concerning Georgia, with moving into Abkhazia,” he added.

During the war between Russia and Georgia in 2008, Russian troops entered into the breakaway region of Abkhazia; later Moscow formally recognized the independence of Abkhazia, along with another breakaway region, South Ossetia.

As NATO membership necessitates the candidate country’s full sovereign rights and territorial integrity, the stalemate in the Georgian conflict has effectively blocked the country’s NATO membership.

Dr. Meister claimed that the pro-European government in Kiev should be extremely careful in its response to any provocation or inflammatory developments, such as the Crimean parliament’s decision on Thursday to ask Moscow to become part of the Russian Federation.

“It could be a new escalation of the crisis, depending on how much and in which sense Kiev reacts,” Dr. Meister warned.

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