Ukraine admits it may abjure its plans to join NATO in order to avoid a war with Russia, Ukraine's Ambassador to the UK, Vadym Prystaiko said. An excerpt of his interview was published on the Twitter account of BBC Radio 5 Live.
When asked whether Kiev could consider renouncing membership in the North Atlantic Alliance, the Ambassador replied that the Ukrainian authorities could do this. It was not only Moscow, but also NATO that was pushing Ukraine in every possible way, including threats, to making such a decision, he said.
"We are flexible in finding the best way out, and if we have to make some serious concessions, then this is what we could do," Vadym Prystaiko said.
"Can we defuse the current situation while being unprotected and not being part of any alliance when all our friends and neighbors are already members of the organization?” he said.
At the same time, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said that Prystaiko's remarks about Ukraine's possible refusal to join NATO were misinterpreted. Oleg Nikolenko, an official representative for the Foreign Ministry of Ukraine, said that the issue of security guarantees was the key issue for Kiev. Ukraine's immediate incorporation into the alliance would serve as the best guarantee in this situation, the official said.
"For the sake of peace and the preservation of the lives of our citizens, Ukraine is ready to accept any formats of dialogue. At the same time, the ambassador rightly noted in the interview that the prospect of NATO membership was enshrined in the Constitution of Ukraine, but the country was not a member of this or any other security alliance,” Nikolenko said.
According to him, no decision can be made contrary to the constitution.
Ukraine's Chargé d'Affaires in Australia, Volodymyr Shalkivsky, called Kiev's refusal from NATO membership impossible and predicted that this would lead to a strong negative reaction from the Ukrainian society.
Official spokesman for the President of Ukraine, Sergei Nikiforov, stated that the ambassador should explain himself for еру remarks about a possibility for Ukraine to turn down the idea of NATO membership.
"Ukraine's aspirations for NATO and the European Union are enshrined in the country's Constitution," the politician said, adding that Prystaiko should clarify in detail what he had in mind.
Afterwards, it became known that Prystaiko answered negatively to the question of whether Ukraine was revising its ambition to join the North Atlantic Alliance. His words were misunderstood, he added.
The ambassador said that Kiev was ready for many concessions in order to avoid war.
"Yet, this has nothing to do with the course to join NATO, which is enshrined in the Constitution,” he said.
Noteworthy, Prystaiko's position found support in the West. James Heappey, UK's Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Armed Forces, said that London would support Ukraine's decision to abjure NATO membership.
For Russia, Ukraine's obligation not to join NATO was one of the key security demands that Russia had earlier submitted to the USA. Moscow demanded that the alliance should return to its 1997 borders and stop arming the states that share a border with Russia. NATO responded that it would not abandon the open door policy.
Up to 16,000 military men of the Armed Forces of Ukraine have been entrapped near the towns of Severodonetsk and Lysichansk