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26 Aug, 2008 01:22

Russia ready to ditch NATO – Medvedev

President Medvedev says Russia is ready to break off relations with NATO if necessary. His comments came after a meeting with Russia's ambassador to the alliance, Dmitry Rogozin. NATO has been highly critical of Russia’s

Speaking after a meeting with Rogozin in Sochi, Medvedev said there could be no confusion about NATO’s plans. He also said that Russia could see through “the illusion of partnership”.

“When they are building up their military forces, surrounding us with bases and drawing into the alliance more and more countries – convincing us that everything is ok. Of course we don't like it,” President Medvedev said on Monday.

NATO vessels are in the Black Sea to provide humanitarian aid for Georgia and give a helping hand. Russia views their presence with suspicion.

NATO had warned that relations with Russia would not improve until it pulled all its troops out of Georgia.

The future of joint Russia-NATO programmes remains unclear. One of them involves the delivery of humanitarian aid through Russia to Afghanistan.

“NATO is more interested in this partnership then we are. Even if it will mean the end of our cooperation, it’s nothing to us,” Medvedev said.

At the last meeting of NATO foreign ministers, the alliance was looking for ways to punish Russia.

The U.S. wanted to convince member states to exclude Russia from the G8.

In another development, Washington and Warsaw sealed a deal on the deployment of interceptors in Poland as a part of the U.S. missile defence project. The talks ended years of negotiations, with Washington agreeing to all Poland’s conditions.

Western countries could bar Russia’s entry to the World Trade Organisation. Russia has been seeking to join the WTO for more than 10 years, but it’s not desperate for entry and is prepared to halt talks.

“Our economy, I mean some of its industries, including agriculture, bears a rather heavy load. It turns out we neither see nor feel any pluses from this membership of the WTO, if there are any at all, but we do bear a load,” Prime Minister Putin said.

Meanwhile, the British Foreign Ministry announced that breaking NATO-Russia ties would be a mistake, as the alliance need links with Moscow.