Russia does not welcome Georgia's membership to NATO and reminds it that Russia "is a very large country with a huge nuclear arsenal" and has its own national approach," Prime Minister of Russian Federation Dmitri Medvedev said in his interview to Rustavi 2 TV company aired on 6 August.
According to Medvedev, Russia cannot leave unnoticed Georgia's aspiration towards the North-Atlantic Alliance unnoticed:
"Of course, we do not welcome Georgia's membership in NATO, to put it mildly, even though Georgia nurtures Euro-Atlantic aspirations. That's not because we believe that Georgia is not entitled to it: every country has the right to decide its affiliation with a particular political and military alliance or an integration association. However, we proceed based on our approaches, not yours. Our national approach is as follows: Russia is a very large country with a huge nuclear arsenal – we cannot ignore this fact. If there's a state which is a member of another military-political alliance whose nuclear missiles are aimed at targets located on the Russian territory, we cannot welcome this... Yes, we are partners with NATO, but the fact remains nonetheless," Russian Prime Minister said.
To a question why Russia sees Georgia's membership in NATO as a threat when its other neighboring countries, such as the Baltic states are NATO members, Dmitri Medvedev replied: "You don't think that we are comfortable with the fact that they are NATO members, do you? To be sure, we are not. They are stable neighbors. I'd like us to have a stable relationship too, to be good neighbors, all the more so since we have centuries-old, friendly relations... However, in this particular case the issue is not relations between people, but between states, and these relations are built on different principles. We cannot turn a blind eye to Georgia or any other country for that matter, such as Ukraine, becoming a member of this kind of military and political alliance."
According to Dmitri Medvedev, Georgia's accession to NATO will add nothing to Georgia and "it is very important" for the country "to be aware of this." Moreover, he warned, that will become a new source of tensions between Russia and Georgia.
"Let me explain why I think it would be bad for Georgia too. You stand almost nothing to gain because military conflicts in the present-day world are inadmissible. Incidentally, this case illustrates that the expectations of some Georgian leaders that NATO would stop any interference in such situations or something else would happen have not come true because other, far more important values were under threat. So, in this case it will do nothing for Georgia as a sovereign and dynamically developing state but it will create a long-term and enduring source of tensions between our states. And the reason is not the 2008 conflict between your country and these small nations, but defense issues because you would become a member of a big military political alliance which - and I repeat, we did not invent it, it was all done before us - is a potential enemy if certain situations arise," Prime Minister Medvedev said.
In response to a question whether Russia can impede Georgia to join NATO, the Russian prime minister said that the only one who can do that is NATO itself.
"[I]f Georgia wants to join NATO, only NATO itself can prevent it. Russia is not a NATO member, we are not part of the North Atlantic Alliance, we have no voice there, they don't listen to us and do not invite us. We do have regular meetings. I took part in the Russia-NATO summit. The conversation may be good but we have our own problems with NATO, for example, ballistic missile defense in Europe. However, we have no say in their decision-making. So, this will be within the competence of the North Atlantic Alliance... I believe the Georgian people and your leadership must keep it in mind – that you should pause and think, what Europe stands to gain if Georgia joins NATO?" said Dmitri Medvedev.
In Medvedev's view, the statements that NATO's doors are open for Georgia played "a fateful role" in 2008.
"That statement, it seems to me, has played a fateful role in that situation with regard to some muddled decisions that developed into a criminally reckless undertaking. If such statements had not been made perhaps reason would have prevailed in Mr. Saakashvili's mind and he would not have sent tanks with rocket launchers to Tskhinvali [in August 2008], but would have come to Moscow as he and I had agreed," declared Prime Minister of Russian Federation.