NATO expansion into Ukraine ‘a life-and-death issue’ for Russia, Kremlin spokesman says

26 December 2021, 03:56 PM

The expansion of NATO into countries that used to be part of the Soviet Union, including Ukraine, is “a life-and-death issue” for Russia, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said in an interview with Russia 1 TV channel.

“The enlargement of NATO to such countries as Ukraine, other post-Soviet countries... Of course, this is already ‘a life-and-death issue’ for us,” Peskov said, as reported by the Kremlin-controlled TASS news agency on Telegram on Dec. 26.

Peskov said that “Russia’s security is under threat over the West’s deceit on the non-enlargement of NATO to the east.”

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Russia claims that after the collapse of the Soviet Union it was given guarantees by NATO that the alliance would not expand to include former Soviet republics. NATO says no such guarantees were ever given.

Last week Russia demanded that NATO and the United States provide it with security guarantees, including a ban on Ukraine joining the alliance, and the reversal of a 2008 decision by NATO to put Ukraine and Georgia on the path to membership.

On Dec. 10 Russia’s Foreign Ministry said Ukraine’s current path may spark a large-scale military conflict in Europe.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has meanwhile called on the West not to meet Russia’s demands.

Three former Soviet republics – Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova – have been subject to military interventions by Moscow since they declared independence in 1991.

Another three of Russia’s neighbors – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – which were occupied by the Soviet Union until its collapse in 1991, and which joined NATO and the European Union in 2004, have not been subject to military intervention by the Kremlin.

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