NATO eastward expansion would be 'catastrophic': Russian official

Tanks drive during a NATO Response Force exercise in Zagan, southwest Poland on June 18, 2015 (AFP Photo/Janek Skarzynski) (AFP/File)

Moscow (AFP) - NATO enlargement into Ukraine and Georgia would have "catastrophic consequences" for Europe, Russia's envoy to NATO warned Tuesday in a television interview, as relations between Moscow and the West sink to Cold War-era lows.

"Any political game concerning NATO expansion into Georgia and Ukraine is filled with the most serious, most profound geopolitical consequences for all of Europe," Russia's permanent representative to NATO, Alexander Grushko, told LifeNews television channel.

"I hope that people in Brussels and other capitals fully understand the danger of this game, the danger of the cards some forces are still trying to play. This would have catastrophic consequences," he told the Russian channel.

Grushko added that NATO expansion would be catastrophic for Ukraine as well, where a conflict has pitted pro-Moscow rebels against Ukrainian troops since last year.

Moscow's annexation of Crimea last March and the subsequent violence in eastern Ukraine have strained Russia's already tense relations with NATO, and each accuses the other of meddling in the affairs of the former Soviet country.

Grushko accused NATO of raising an "Iron Curtain" in Europe by deploying troops and holding military exercises near its eastern border, a move the military alliance said was aimed at deterring Moscow.

Earlier this year, NATO agreed to boost its defences with six command centres in eastern Europe and a spearhead force of 5,000 troops. The organisation also said it would hold continuous military drills in the region.

On Sunday, Russia announced a new naval doctrine to counter what it called "inadmissible" attempts by NATO to move military infrastructure close to Russia's borders.