Wednesday, December 02, 2015

NATO Unveils Plans to Grow, Drawing Fury and Threats From Russia

By STEVEN ERLANGER, NYT
DEC. 2, 2015

LONDON — For the first time in six years, NATO on Wednesday invited a new member to join the military alliance, prompting a heated response from Russia and further underscoring escalating tensions between the Cold War adversaries.

The invitation, to tiny Montenegro, came nine years after the Balkan nation began the process of accession. But the timing of the offer came at a particularly delicate moment as the West is trying to persuade Russia to link forces to help defeat the Islamic State and end the civil war in Syria.

In Moscow, the offer to Montenegro — which has a population of about 600,000 and little military capacity — prompted fury and threats. Dmitri S. Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, said that a NATO expansion would be met with unspecified retaliatory measures from Russia.

“The continuing expansion of NATO and NATO’s military infrastructure to the East, of course, cannot but lead to response actions from the East, namely the Russian side,” Mr. Peskov said.

After attackers linked to the Islamic State killed 130 people in Paris on Nov. 13, President François Hollande of France flew to both Washington and Moscow in an effort to create a broader alliance against the extremist group. Mr. Hollande judged that the Paris attacks and the downing of a Russian civilian airliner over Egypt, also claimed by the Islamic State, had altered Russian calculations.

(More here.)

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