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Acting President and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin answered journalists' questions

March 7, 2000, Ivanovo

Mr Putin discussed Russia-NATO relations and the presidential election campaign.

He said he saw nothing terrible in discussing the possibility of Russia joining NATO, and he separated the political aspects of this issue from the military ones. “If this military organisation takes decisions similar to those it took on Yugoslavia, then this would not suit us, and we would not want to join such an organisation,” Mr Putin said.

He said that although the Soviet Union had voiced its readiness to join NATO after its inception in 1949, that request was denied. The Warsaw Pact was established in order to counterbalance NATO. “Although the Soviet Communist Party no longer has a monopoly on power and the USSR and the Warsaw Pact no longer exist, NATO continues to take on new member countries and expand its sphere of influence,” Mr Putin said.

According to the Acting President, the NATO Secretary-General’s reaction to his recent interview with the BBC (which mentioned expanded cooperation with the alliance) implied that no one wanted to admit Russia into NATO.

Mr Putin said that although NATO was not expecting Russia to join, its sphere of influence should not expand to the east and should not approach Russian borders.

Replying to a question about the election race, the Acting President let it be understood that he had no intention of taking part in televised debates and advertisements. “People engaged in practical work must prove their worth by specific deeds, rather than through campaigns,” Mr Putin said.

March 7, 2000, Ivanovo