Russia should not be afraid of NATO enlargement or worry about the accession of independent nations, including Ukraine, to NATO because the enlargement process has always contributed to peace and stability throughout Europe.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said this at a press conference in Brussels on Friday, October 22, following the second day of the meeting of NATO defense ministers, according to an Ukrinform correspondent.
Stoltenberg was asked whether he was worried about the fact that proposals to give Ukraine the prospect of NATO membership could provoke Russian aggression.
"No, partly because NATO is a defensive alliance and partly because it is for Ukraine and 30 NATO Allies to decide on when Ukraine is ready to join the Alliance. No other country has any right to intervene or to have any say in that process because Ukraine is a sovereign independent nation. And sovereign independent nations have the right to choose their own path. And therefore, it is up to Ukraine to decide that they aspire for NATO membership and then, of course, for 30 Allies to decide when Ukraine is ready, when Ukraine meets the NATO standards," he said.
"The enlargement of NATO over the last decades has actually contributed to peace and stability throughout Europe and, therefore, there's no way that Russia should be afraid of or have any right to try to veto or to stop any sovereign nation from joining the Alliance," Stoltenberg added.
The NATO summit held in Brussels in June this year confirmed the prospect of Euro-Atlantic integration for Ukraine and Georgia, when these countries are ready for such a step and when all Allies reach a political agreement on such membership.