Moscow growls at NATO

  • 2002-07-25

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov reiterated July 18 Moscow's opposition to NATO membership for the three Baltic states. But hailed Russia's new cooperation with the western defense alliance.

Speaking on an official two-day visit to Finland, Ivanov said Russia's closer cooperation with NATO gives it the possibility to help shape Europe's future security arrangements.

Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are among the countries expected to be asked to join NATO at a summit in Prague in November.

Ivanov has strongly objected to the alliance's expansion eastwards to Russia's borders, saying it might "cause a deterioration of the security environment in the Baltic Sea area" and that Russia might have to act accordingly.

During his visit to Finland, Ivanov held talks with his Finnish counterpart Jan-Erik Enestam, Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomijoa and President Tarja Halonen.

The two sides did sign a treaty on environmental cooperation between the armed forces of the neighboring countries.

A debate on a possible Finnish membership in NATO is underway in the Nordic country, and is set to become one of the main issues in upcoming campaigns ahead of parliamentary elections in March next year.