Russia applauds U.S. moves on NATO membership

Russia welcomes a decision by the U.S. government to back away from granting fast-track NATO membership to ex-Soviet republics Georgia and Ukraine at the alliance’s summit later this month, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Thursday.

“I am satisfied common sense prevailed,” he told reporters during a visit to Havana. “Whatever the reasons, European pressure or whatever else, the main thing is that they (Washington) no longer push ahead with their previous ferociousness and senselessness.”

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Wednesday pulled back from offering Georgia and Ukraine a formal roadmap to join NATO and said Britain had proposed finding other ways to bring them into the alliance.

Russia strongly opposes giving NATO membership to the two states although Washington led a push for the alliance to allow them in through a so-called Membership Action Plan, or MAP. Moscow’s opposition stiffened following its brief war with Georgia earlier this year.

(Reporting by Oleg Shchedrov in Havana; writing by Patrick Markey; editing by Bill Trott at Reuters)

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