The seeds of the ongoing turmoil in Ukraine were sown back in April 2008, when NATO suggested that Ukraine and Georgia should move closer to the alliance, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.
“The seeds for the current crisis were sown in 2008 in April during the NATO summit in Bucharest, when NATO leaders stated in a declaration that Georgia and Ukraine would be in NATO,” the senior Russian diplomat told Bloomberg in an interview.
He said that the Georgian president at the time, Mikhail Saakasvhili, thought the statement gave him a license to resolve the problem of Georgia’s breakaway region, South Ossetia, by force and he launched an invasion.
“He was certainly motivated by this NATO promise,” Lavrov stressed.
Georgia or Ukraine becoming part of NATO would be a critical threat to Russia’s national security, Lavrov explained, and something that Russia would simply not accept.
“The attempts to draw Ukraine into NATO would be negative for the entire system of European security and we would be categorically against it,” he said.
While Russia would not object to Ukraine joining the EU, provided that Ukrainians comprehend and accept fully the economic repercussions this would bring, changing Ukraine’s neutral military status is out of the question for Moscow.
This is especially true considering NATO’s record of breaking its promises not to advance its military assets towards Russian borders, Lavrov said.