Tensions between the West and Russia would decrease if NATO would guarantee not to expand close to its borders, Alexei Kurdin, Russia's finance minister between 2000-2011, said.
“This would decrease tensions considerably, but it would not decrease the security of nations bordering Russia,” Kurdin said, speaking at a conference in Finland.
He said the West is exaggerating Russia's threat and the nation poses no danger to either the Baltic states or Scandinavia.
“NATO has a similar image in Russia as it did during the Cold War. NATO's one-sided expansion in the 90s and 00s made Russia very cautious,” Kudrin said, adding that only 5 percent held the West to be dangerous at the beginning of the 90s while now that figure is 80 percent.
Speaking about Ukraine, Kurdin said a stop to NATO expansion is not a prerequisite for peace in Ukraine. “To reach peace in Ukraine, the conditions in the Minsk treaty must be fulfilled,” he said.
Kurdin said that solution to the Ukraine conflict would be easier to achieve with NATO expansion limitation guarantees, adding that he is currently not a spokesman of the Kremlin, and speaking mearly as a private citizen.
Editor: J.M. Laats