(Reuters) – Russia said on Friday that a decision by European Union leaders to accept Ukraine and Moldova as membership candidates would have negative consequences and amount to the European Union’s “enslavement” of neighboring countries.
Although it may take years for countries to join the European bloc, the decision to accept them as candidates is emblematic of the EU’s intention to penetrate deep into the former Soviet Union.
Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, described the move as an attempt to encroach on Russia’s sphere of influence within the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) made up of former Soviet states.
“With the decision to grant Ukraine and Moldova the status of candidate countries, the European Union has confirmed that it continues to actively exploit the CIS at the geopolitical level, to use it” to contain “Russia,” she said in a statement.
“They do not think about the negative consequences of such a move.”
By expanding into Ukraine and Moldova, two former Soviet republics, the EU was sacrificing its democratic ideals at the expense of “unconstrained expansion and the political and economic enslavement of its neighbours,” Zakharova said.
Moscow has said it needs to send troops into Ukraine, in part, to prevent its territory from being used to attack Russia. Western countries and Kiev say Russia’s claims are a baseless excuse to justify the land grab.
(Reporting by Reuters Editing by Leslie Adler)