NATO puts Russia ties ahead of Georgia, Ukraine – Russian envoy

By RIA Novosti,

Moscow : Relations with Russia are currently more important for NATO than membership for Georgia and Ukraine, Russia’s envoy to the 26-member alliance said in an interview with Kommersant on Wednesday.

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NATO foreign ministers agreed on Tuesday to gradually resume contacts with Moscow, suspended after Russia’s armed conflict with Georgia in August, but the alliance failed to reach an agreement on whether to allow Tbilisi and Kiev into the Membership Action Plan (MAP).

“They [NATO] know Ukraine and Georgia are not going anywhere, while matters with Russia need to be settled right now,” Dmitry Rogozin told the business daily.

“Of course, they cannot show that they have surrendered to pressure from Moscow, so they will make some fine statements and promises to Ukraine and Georgia, and perhaps, outline their Atlantic future, but no crucial decisions will be made,” Rogozin added.

Rogozin said none of the NATO members were happy about future membership to the alliance for Ukraine, which is on the verge of bankruptcy, or Georgia following its conflict with Russia.

“Europe can see what is happening to Ukraine’s economy – companies will start closing soon, and the country will go bust. Europe cannot afford to prop up Ukraine,” the Russian envoy said.

Rogozin added: “They will not invite these bankrupt scandalous regimes to join NATO…more so as important partnerships with Russia are at stake.”

He said that NATO was interested in a number of joint operations with Russia, including preventing pirate attacks off Somalia and transiting essential goods through Afghanistan for NATO forces.