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Russian president warns of NATO's eastward expansion

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Berlin, June 6, IRNA
Germany-Russia-Medvedev
Efforts by NATO to expand eastward will negatively impact the relations between Russia and the US-led western military pact and lead to lasting political tensions, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said Thursday during a keenly anticipated foreign policy speech at a Berlin hotel.

Addressing the German-Russian Forum, the Russian leader warned that NATO's eastward extension would "damage the alliance's relations (with Russia ) in the long-term."

"The price will be high," Medvedev stressed.

He called for the need of a binding treaty on the European security structure which should be linked to the UN Charter.

For Moscow, NATO expansion is a cause of concern, especially when it includes members of its own post-Soviet neighborhood.

Russia's fears are compounded by US and NATO moves to deploy a controversial missile shield and radar track system in Poland and the Czech Republic, both of whom are alliance members.

Moscow views these plans as an "open provocation."

Turning a deaf ear to Russia's opposition, NATO enlarged several times to 26 nations before formally accepting Croatia and Albania as new members at the recent summit of the western military pact in the Romanian capital, Bucharest, Macedonia can also join NATO as soon as it resolves its name dispute with Greece.

Facing intense Russian pressure, NATO postponed a decision last month on granting Georgia and Ukraine a membership candidate status.

However, allied leaders said both countries could become a member one day and offered to review the decision in December.

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