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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Russian defense minister rules out NATO membership

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Berlin, Oct 23, IRNA -- Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov has ruled out a membership of his country in NATO, the Hamburg-based weekly news magazine Der Spiegel said in a report to hit the newsstands on Sunday.

Although Serdyukov referred to the controversial western military alliance as a 'partner', he made clear Russia had no plans whatsoever to become a NATO member in the long-term.

Serdyukov's remarks are in line with earlier statements by Moscow's NATO envoy Dmitry Rogozin who stressed that a membership in the alliance was out of question.

'We don't consider it necessary to make any concessions in terms of our sovereignty and we are capable of solving all the threats in an independent way,' he was quoted as saying.

'Great powers don't join coalitions, they create coalitions. Russia considers itself a great power,' Rogozin added.

Russia's NATO membership has never been seen as a serious option, while Moscow maintains that it sees the western military pact as a threat to its national security.

NATO was founded in 1949 as an American-led military alliance guaranteeing the security of the then Western European allies from any potential attacks by what used to be the Soviet Union.

Once the Soviet Union collapsed, many of its former eastern European satellite states in the Baltic region joined NATO.

Moscow has strongly opposed NATO encroachment into its neighborhood, which it still views as its sphere of influence.

OT**1394
Islamic Republic News Agency/IRNA NewsCode: 30034274



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