MOSCOW: President Vladimir Putin lashed out at NATO plans to continue its eastward expansion, saying Russia would see the induction of Ukraine and Georgia as an “immediate threat” to its security and react accordingly.
“The presence of a powerful military bloc on our borders, whose members are guided by Article 5 of the Washington Treaty will be seen as direct threat to our national security,” Mr. Putin said at a news conference after the NATO-Russia Council meeting on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Bucharest. It was Mr. Putin’s farewell interaction with the Western leaders. He steps down on May 7, when new President Dmitry Medvedev takes the oath.
NATO leaders refrained from granting a Membership Action Plan to Ukraine and Georgia on Thursday, but promised to do it later, insisting that the NATO doors were open for the two post-Soviet republics.
Warning that Russia would react strongly to the move, Mr. Putin said: “Let us be honest with each other – we will treat you as you treat us.”