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LONDON: Russia said on Monday that Ukrainian membership of the NATO military alliance would have very negative consequences for Europe’s security architecture and that Moscow would respond firmly to any such step.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was speaking on the eve of a NATO

summit in Lithuania aimed at showing solidarity with Ukraine while not yet accepting Kyiv as a member of the alliance.

“You know the absolutely clear and consistent position of the Russian Federation that Ukraine’s membership in NATO will have very, very negative consequences for the security architecture, the already half-destroyed security architecture in Europe. And it will be an absolute danger, a threat to our country, which will require from us a sufficiently clear and firm reaction,” Peskov told reporters.

Russia launched its war in Ukraine last year, something it calls a “special military operation,” after seeking and failing to obtain what it called “security guarantees” from the West that its neighbour would never be allowed to join NATO. The United States said the demand was a “non-starter”, and Ukraine should be free to decide its own alliances.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has made clear that Kyiv will not become a member while war rages, and that the Vilnius summit will not issue a formal invitation.

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