Medvedev warns against NATO membership for Ukraine, Georgia

Updated: 2008-03-25 23:56

LONDON  -- Russian President-elect Dmitry Medvedev has warned that granting NATO membership to the former Soviet republics of Ukraine and Georgia could threaten European security, the Financial Times reported Tuesday.

Medvedev's comments will step up pressure on the alliance not to allow the two states to join NATO's "membership action plan" at a summit in Bucharest next week, the newspaper said.

Vladimir Putin, the outgoing Russian president, is expected to attend the summit.

In a two-hour interview with the newspaper, Medvedev said, "We are not happy about the situation around Georgia and Ukraine. We consider that it is extremely troublesome for the existing structure of European security."

"No state can be pleased about having representatives of a military bloc to which it does not belong coming close to its borders," said Medvedev, in his first interview since winning the presidential elections on March 2.

He also suggested that most Ukrainians are opposed to joining the military alliance, as shown by opinion polls.

This is even more difficult to explain when the vast majority of citizens of Ukraine are categorically against joining NATO, while the government follows a different policy, he said.

Medvedev also conceded that it was in Russia's interests to rebuild relations with Britain, which have been at a post-cold war low since the murder of Alexander Litvinenko, the London-based Kremlin critic, the newspaper said.

"We are open to the re-establishment of cooperation to the full extent," he said, adding that "time would show" whether progress could be made when he first meets British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, probably at the G8 summit in Japan in July.

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