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NATO Expansion Not Off the Table, 'Door is Open' to Russian Neighbor - Professor

© AFP 2021 / OLIVIER MORIN National flags in NATO headquarters in Brussels (File)
National flags in NATO headquarters in Brussels (File) - Sputnik International
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has called for Europe and North America to stay united in an article published in the Guardian, which he wrote ahead of the upcoming alliance summit in July. According to him, the West faces the most unpredictable security environment in a generation.

Radio Sputnik discussed the upcoming NATO summit with James D.J. Brown, Associate Professor and Academic Program Coordinator for International Affairs at Temple University in Japan.

Sputnik: Putin sees NATO as aggressive and expansionist power creeping towards its borders. Last year, speaking to a US journalist, he said it would be helpful if it was falling apart. There are others in the West, who also feel that NATO is guilty of antagonizing Russia. What do you make of all these comments?

James Brown: Frankly, it's something which has been a source of tension between Russia and NATO for a very long time now. We know very clearly what the views of President Putin are; as you summarized, he sees the expansion of NATO as having been a sort of aggressive act and therefore Russia felt that it needed to take measures to respond to that.

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Obviously, from the NATO side, it is seen in a completely different way. From the NATO perspective, it is Russia that is seen as the aggressor. Especially after 2014 there is the belief that Russia is an actor that the NATO needs to take strong action to deter.

Sputnik: What do you think of Ukraine? The potential of Ukraine joining NATO as a full-fledged member? Do you see that happening anytime soon, and what kind of effect will that have for relations between the US and other NATO countries and Russia? Will NATO risk taking on Ukraine right now, with the situation that is currently rampant in the country?

James Brown: I don't think there is any real appetite for that at all at the moment. There are certainly those within the Ukrainian government who would like that, but given the continuing very unstable situation that prevails within Ukraine, the continuing conflict in the east of the country, I think it's not at all on the cards at the moment that Ukraine's membership in NATO is being considered. However that doesn't mean that the expansion of NATO is entirely off the table. And in fact, there have been suggestions [that] there might be some mention of Georgia at this upcoming summit in July.

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Now that's not going to be an indication that Georgia is going to be joining any time soon, but it might be an indication that the door is open to potential Georgian membership. And clearly that is something that would be against the interests of the Russian government and that they are not likely to look upon in a favorable way.

The views and opinions expressed are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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