The US-led alliance constantly creates confrontation, a Russian deputy foreign minister said A German armored vehicle during an exercise in Pabrade, Lithuania, June 26, 2023. © Petras Malukas / AFP

NATO needs enemies so it could justify its existence, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr Grushko said on Thursday, reflecting on the Western bloc’s recent meeting in neighboring Lithuania.

“Expansion is one of the instruments used by NATO countries to maintain confrontation,” Grushko told Russia’s Channel One. “Therefore, unfortunately, history has forced us to conclude that NATO cannot exist without an adversary. Otherwise, it would lose all meaning.”

Grushko stressed that the admission of Ukraine into the US-led bloc would have “catastrophic consequences for European security, Ukraine, and the alliance itself.” At the same time, Western countries use the prospect of NATO membership as a way to control Ukraine’s domestic politics, the diplomat argued.

Although NATO has refused to grant an immediate membership or a concrete accession timetable to Kiev, the bloc’s members affirmed at the summit in Vilnius on Tuesday that the country would be invited to join in the future. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that Ukraine was “closer to NATO than ever before.”

Russia considers NATO’s expansion eastward a threat to its own national security, and has warned that the delivery of heavy weapons and other military aid to Ukraine makes the alliance a de facto participant in the conflict.

Western countries insist that NATO is a strictly defensive alliance and claims that it poses no threat to Russia. (RT)