Ukraine inches closer to NATO membership, enrages Russia

It may be looked as Kiev's baby step towards NATO and it may take Ukraine years to join the Western military alliance, however Russia has been quick to predict doom for the ex-Soviet bloc as Ukrainian Parliament on Tuesday dropped its non-aligned status.

Last Updated: Dec 24, 2014, 07:27 AM IST
Ukraine inches closer to NATO membership, enrages Russia

Kiev: It may be looked as Kiev's baby step towards NATO and it may take Ukraine years to join the Western military alliance, however Russia has been quick to predict doom for the ex-Soviet bloc as Ukrainian Parliament on Tuesday dropped its non-aligned status.

The Parliament of Ukraine on Tuesday voted overwhelmingly in favour of cancelling the non-aligned status, which was adopted in 2010 under Russian pressure.

The non-aligned status so far kept Ukraine from joining any military alliance. But dropping it, means Ukraine is determined to inch closer to West and Europe, much to Russia's chagrin.

Russia, which is opposed to Ukraine joining NATO, was quick to react to the unpalatable Ukrainian move and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov termed it "counterproductive", saying it would aggravate the tensions already simmering between Moscow and Kiev.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev too, in a Facebook post, predicted "negative consequences" if Ukraine shunned its neutrality. He said that the vote was tantamount to Ukraine's application to join NATO.

"In essence, an application for Nato membership will turn Ukraine into a potential military opponent for Russia," the BBC cited his FB post.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has made it clear that he would seek Nato membership.

However, NATO membership looks to be a distant prospect as before that Ukraine will hold a referendum which will not be held before 2020, reports suggest.

Ukraine and the West complain against Moscow's alleged support to the pro-Russian separatists and fomenting the crisis in eastern region. Separatists have for months clashed with Kiev's forces and so far 5000, have been killed since April.

Russia, which had annexed Crimea in March, denies the claim that it supplies arms, etc to the pro-Russian rebels. However, the EU and the US have slapped sanctions on Russia for the same.