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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 October 2006, 16:07 GMT 17:07 UK
Russia objects to Nato expansion
Sergey Lavrov
Lavrov has linked the tension with Georgia to Nato influence
Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, has told Europe's democracy watchdog that there is no reason for Nato to expand further towards Russia.

At the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, Mr Lavrov said that Russia could not physically prevent Nato expanding.

He said Nato's steady enlargement perpetuated an old "bloc" approach to resolving international problems.

Nato has extended to the Russian border since it admitted Poland and the Baltic states in 2004.

Let's not erect new dividing lines
Sergey Lavrov
Russian foreign minister

"There are so many other ways to solve common security issues," Mr Lavrov said after addressing the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

"Let's not erect new dividing lines," he added.

Tensions

Georgia's stated aim of joining Nato in 2008 is a major cause for concern for Russia and part of the current tension between Russia and Georgia, correspondents say.

In July, US President George Bush voiced his support for Georgia's bid to become a Nato member, when he met Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili in Washington.

Mr Lavrov has implied there is a link between the US and Nato and Georgia's recent detention of four Russian army officers on accusations of spying.

Although the four have been released, Russia has imposed sanctions on Georgia.

"The root cause of the situation is the consistent connivance on the part of some countries, which makes it possible for Georgia to pursue an anti-Russian policy," he said in Strasbourg.

Russia is also unhappy that it is official Ukrainian policy to seek Nato membership.

However, Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich said in Brussels last month that there was no public support for making the issue a priority.


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