Lavrov Asks If NATO Planning to ‘Put Itself in Ukraine?’

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, December 4, 2009There was also a discussion of Ukraine initiated by Foreign Minister Lavrov reacting to the NATO public statement yesterday of support for the wishes for the Ukrainian people, asking whether NATO was planning to put itself in Ukraine. And all allies made clear that this was firmly about supporting the aspirations of the Ukrainian people for a European future, that there was no military operation planned in Ukraine, and it was provocative to discuss that. . . .

There was a discussion both in the NATO-Russia Council and then again bilaterally of missile defense. On missile defense in the NATO-Russia Council, all allies reiterated NATO’s longstanding point that it would like to have a cooperative relationship with Russia on missile defense, and urged Russia to be more forthcoming. Foreign Minister Lavrov used that opportunity to make a new point that he’s been making that in the context of increasing progress with Iran, missile defense is no longer needed – a point that all allies, including the Secretary, strongly disputed. And in the bilateral discussion, the Secretary went over again the fact it is not only about Iran’s nuclear program, it’s also about its ballistic missile program, which allows it to deliver other forms of WMD as well, and that is concerning and requiring of strong missile defense protections.

Excerpts from Background Briefing by Senior State Department Officials on the NATO-Russia Meeting.

Image: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, December 4, 2009 (photo: NATO)