In a November 17th speech to Russia’s parliament, General Nikolai Makarov, chief of the General Staff of the Russian armed forces, spoke of concerns over NATO’s expansion eastward and stated that the risks of Russia being pulled into local conflicts have “risen sharply.”
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Countries who previously were members of the Warsaw Pact and have since become NATO members include Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania. Russia also has deeply strained relations with Georgia after a 2008 war over two disputed provinces. Georgia is seeking NATO membership. Ukraine, at one point indicated its plans to align with Western powers, but it is now ruled by a pro-Russia president, and its liberal opposition leader has been imprisoned.
According to Russian news agencies, Makarov stated that “under certain conditions local and regional conflicts may develop into a full-scale war involving nuclear weapons.” The general said: “The possibility of local armed conflicts along nearly the whole border has increased dramatically. In certain conditions, I do not rule out local and regional armed conflicts developing into a large-scale war, including using nuclear weapons.”
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