MOSCOW, October 6 (RIA Novosti), Daria Chernyshova – The West should not be provoking Russia by saying it can offer NATO membership to Ukraine at any stage, British parliamentarian and Labor Party politician Lord Donald Anderson told RIA Novosti on Monday, commenting on a recent statement by the organization’s new chief that the alliance’s army can be deployed wherever they want to.
“We have to accept that Russia does have interests which we should believe in if Russia is in the business of responding reasonably, and I think that the West should certainly not provoke by saying that at any stage Ukraine could be a member of NATO,” Anderson told RIA Novosti.
On Sunday, new NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in an interview to Polish broadcaster TVP Info that "NATO has a strong army after all. We can deploy it wherever we want to.”
Anderson added, however, that the worries of the alliance members could also be understood, as Russia has been “quite adventurous” of late.
“… it may not be prudent to deploy NATO forces, but I can well understand why it is under consideration given the provocation by Russia,” Anderson said.
Russia has repeatedly denied allegations of stationing troops in Ukraine or of providing independence supporters in eastern regions with weapons. The accusations have never been supported with evidence and in late September, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said that it found no evidence of Russian military involvement in the Ukrainian crisis.
“There is nothing. No evidence and no serious documents have been found. Top OSCE officials said in an interview with the Western press … that they have no evidence of regular Russian troops fighting in Ukraine," Russia's OSCE envoy Andrei Kelin said.
Relations between Russia and NATO have deteriorated amid the crisis in Ukraine. The alliance has repeatedly accused Russia of meddling in Ukraine's internal affairs, sending troops to Ukraine, and went as far as to claim that Moscow planned to invade Ukraine. However, none of these statements were supported with any evidence.
On April 1, NATO ended its cooperation with Russia, only maintaining contacts at the ambassadorial and higher levels.
Following Crimea's reunification with Russia in March, NATO boosted its military presence close to Russia's borders, specifically in Poland and the former Soviet Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.
Russia has repeatedly expressed concern over NATO's increased military presence in the country's neighboring states.