If Ukraine becomes a NATO member, Russia will be forced to take adequate measures in return. Russia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry released a statement in connection with a letter from the Ukrainian administration to include Ukraine in NATO Membership Action Plan.
“We believe that any country is free to independently choose a way to guarantee its own security, including the expansion of ties with military and political structures,” the statement from Russia’s Foreign Ministry said. “However, the new radical expansion of NATO may lead to serious military and political changes which will inevitably touch upon Russia’s security interests,” it continued.
The ministry reminded that Russia and Ukraine have been practicing friendly bilateral relations documented in the Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership signed in 1997. According to the treaty, the two countries refrain from participating or supporting any actions that could damage their security. In this connection, a possible integration of Ukraine into NATO will seriously complicate Russian-Ukrainian relations. “The Russian administration is led to believe that the current Ukrainian administration views its NATO membership as an alternative to friendly ties with the Russian Federation.
Russia diplomatically tried to warn Ukraine not to sit on the fence. However, Kiev showed a hysterical reaction to the statement from Russia’s Foreign Ministry. Oleg Bilorus, the chairman of Ukraine’s Parliamentary Committee for Foreign Affairs, said that Ukraine as a sovereign state was entitled to join various international organizations like NATO or the WTO. The official urged the Foreign Ministry of Ukraine to release a reciprocal statement.
Furthermore, Oleg Bilorus said that Russia was taking an “irresponsibly absurd action” threatening Ukraine with a “two-sided joke.” The official stated that Russia was a de-factor NATO member and had no right to put obstacles on the way of the free Ukrainian nation.
It is worthy of note that the majority of Ukrainians stand against the idea of joining the North Atlantic Alliance.
In the meantime, opposition lawmakers blocked the work of the Ukrainian parliament protesting against government’s efforts about NATO membership.
The above-mentioned letter, signed by Yushchenko, Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and Parliament Speaker Arseniy Yatsenyuk, asked that Ukraine's bid for the Membership Action Plan be considered at a NATO meeting in Romania in April.
But the Russia-friendly opposition Party of Regions - the largest faction in the 450-seat Supreme Rada (the Ukrainian parliament) - said the move was inappropriate, and lawmakers angrily swarmed the parliament hall's main podium, halting the chamber's work.
"The powers-that-be ignored the people's will and made a decision on an issue that should be made only by the Ukrainian people following a public discussion," Olena Lukash, a senior member of Party of Regions, said in a statement.
A survey of 2,012 Ukrainians taken in December found that 58.9 percent opposed NATO membership, while 21 percent favored it. The rest of respondents were undecided.
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov
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