Gorbachev says NATO growth aimed at isolating Russia

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has said that calls from the U.S. and other Western powers to bring Ukraine and Georgia into NATO are purely aimed at isolating Russia.

"Why does NATO need these countries? To fight against Iran? This is just ridiculous," Gorbachev told Spanish agency EFE.

NATO refused at its summit in April to let Georgia and Ukraine into the Membership Action Plan, a key step for membership in the 26-nation alliance, but promised to review the decision in December. The countries had received strong U.S. backing for their bids.

In their drive to bring the post-Soviet countries into the alliance, Western powers are trying to "lock Russia in," Gorbachev said.

He also said that in the U.S. there are "certain circles who are pushing the country toward confrontation and NATO expansion, to earn large amounts of money from the production of new armaments," and that the world now faces the threat of a "return to geopolitical games."

He voiced concern that Western nations saw the recent conflict between Georgia and Russia as "aggression on the part of Russia."

Russia "does not want to command" the world, but is "fulfilling its international obligations, while avoiding illegal games," Gorbachev said.

[Source: Novosti, Madrid, 08Sep08]

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