Top Commander Threatens to Arm Borders

Itar-TassAn Iksander tactical ground-to-ground missile launcher, one of the country's most advanced weapons systems.
Russia will take military and other steps along its borders if ex-Soviet Ukraine and Georgia join NATO, news agencies quoted the armed forces' chief of staff as saying on Friday.

"Russia will take steps aimed at ensuring its interests along its borders," the agencies quoted General Yury Baluyevsky as saying. "These will not only be military steps, but also steps of a different nature," he said, without giving details.

Russia is opposed to NATO plans to grant membership to ex-Soviet Ukraine and Georgia, saying such a move would pose a direct threat to its security and endanger the fragile balance of forces in Europe.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said earlier this week that Moscow would do everything it could to prevent the two countries, run by pro-Western governments, from becoming NATO members.

President Vladimir Putin has said that if NATO military installations ever appeared in Ukraine, Moscow would have to target its missiles at the country.

At a summit in Bucharest this month, NATO members turned down requests from Georgia and Ukraine to be granted a Membership Action Plan.

But under pressure from Washington, one of the strongest advocates of enlargement in the alliance, NATO gave a commitment that the two countries would be allowed to join eventually.