Russia warns against Ukraine joining NATO
Russia has warned that any move towards Ukraine’s membership in NATO would have consequences as it would fire a submarine-launched Bulava ballistic missile from tests.
“We believe this would be an extremely dangerous step that would force Russia to react accordingly,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko said Thursday, responding to a question about recent comments from Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin.
“Any step will have consequences,” Rudenko stressed.
Austin said during his visit to Ukraine on Tuesday that Washington supported Kiev’s aspiration to join the transatlantic alliance and that no country could veto such a move.
Relations between Ukraine and Russia have deteriorated since 2014, when the then Crimean territory of Ukraine voted in a referendum to fall under Russian sovereignty. Kiev, supported by the United States and the European Union, refused to recognize the referendum results, later imposing sanctions on Moscow.
Ukraine as well as the EU and the United States claim that Russia is involved in an ongoing conflict that erupted in Ukraine’s Donbass region between government forces and ethnic Russians in 2014. The West has imposed sanctions on Russia after accusing it of interfering in the conflict. Moscow denies the allegation.
Last month, a Kremlin spokesman said the expansion of NATO military activities in Ukraine crossed a red line for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The latest developments come as tensions have escalated between Moscow and the Western military alliance.
Earlier this week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said his country would suspend its NATO mission in response to the expulsion of eight Russian personnel from the NATO mission last week. Lavrov further cited “recent measures” by NATO, saying that there were no longer “basic conditions for common work”.
Russia has long had an observer mission to NATO as part of a two-decade NATO-Russia Council to promote cooperation in common security areas, but it is not a member of the alliance led by the United States. Senior officials in Moscow have asked NATO countries for assurances that NATO’s borders will not shift east.
NATO agrees on plan against Russia
NATO defense ministers were due to agree on Thursday on a new master plan entitled “Concept of deterrence and defense in the Euro-Atlantic area” to prepare for any alleged Russian attack on multiple fronts.
The plan comes as authorities rule out that any Russian attack is imminent and Moscow denies any aggressive intent.
“This is the path of deterrence,” German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said of the plan.
“And this is adapting to the current behavior of Russia – and we are seeing violations in particular of the airspace over the Baltic states, but also an increase in incursions over the Black Sea,” said she told German radio Deutschlandfunk.
Submarine launched Bulava ballistic missile test
Amid tensions, Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Thursday that a Bulava ballistic missile had been successfully launched from the nuclear submarine Knyaz Oleg Project 955-A (Borei-A).
“As part of the state’s test program, the strategic nuclear submarine Knyaz Oleg fired a Bulava ballistic missile from the White Sea. The ballistic missile was under-launched at the Kura training field in Kamchatka, “the ministry said.