The expansion of NATO further eastwards is a red line for Moscow, and Ukraine's possible accession to the US-led bloc is simply unacceptable, Russia's Foreign Ministry said on Thursday.
In a statement, spokeswoman Maria Zakharova warned of "serious negative consequences" if the situation on the border between Russia and Ukraine deteriorates. In recent weeks, there have been constant reports of a troop build-up, with some Western publications suggesting a military conflict is imminent.
"Since the end of the Cold War, Russia has been repeatedly assured that NATO's jurisdiction and military forces will not move an inch eastwards," Zakharova said. "All these promises have been forgotten and not fulfilled. The result is the current sad state of European security."
"We are convinced that the only option for resolving the current situation is the joint development of long-term agreements that rule out any further NATO advances eastward and the deployment of weapons systems threatening us in the immediate vicinity of Russian territory," she continued.
According to Zakharova, the US is dragging Kiev into the military orbit of the alliance and turning it into a "bridgehead" of confrontation with Russia. This could destabilize Europe, she said.
The spokeswoman's comments follow a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Riga, Latvia earlier this week, where the topic of Ukraine and the present circumstances on the frontier with Russia was front and center. While the bloc spoke about potential sanctions against Moscow, it also refused to guarantee that it would defend Kiev in case of armed conflict. However, Zakharova believes the alliance is focused on "fighting imaginary threats."
"One of the pivotal topics - not for the first time - was Russia and its 'possible aggression' against Ukraine," she said. "However, if we look at things realistically, it is NATO that has approached us."