Rasmussen: NATO Will Respect Ukraine’s Potential Decision to Join

World | August 29, 2014, Friday // 16:39|  views

Ihor Dolhov, Ukraine`s Ambassador to NATO, checks the microphone as he gives a press briefing at the end of special meeting of Nato ambassadors on the Ukraine crisis, in Brussels, Belgium, 29 August 2014. EPA/BGNES

NATO would fully respect any potential decision by Ukraine to seek membership of the Western military alliance, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has said.

Speaking to journalists in Brussels on Friday after an emergency meeting between NATO ambassadors and their Ukrainian counterpart,  Rasmussen said that "each and every nation has a right to decide for itself" which alliances it is seeking to join.

However, Rasmussen said, a proposal by Ukraine's government to scrap the law banning membership in military alliances and move toward NATO membership wasn't discussed at the meeting.

Ukraine’s Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk said earlier the government in Kiev would ask parliament to repeal the country's non-aligned status and set it on a path to join NATO.

Yatsenyuk said at a government meeting that Ukraine's main aim remained membership of the European Union. He added the bill that that was being submitted to parliament for approval would also prevent Ukraine from joining any bloc that would stand in the way of this aim, meaning any economic union involving Russia.

Careful not to provoke Moscow, Ukrainian leaders have said for months that seeking NATO membership wasn’t a top priority but the reported incursion of Russian troops into Ukraine seems to have prompted the government to change its mind.

Formal Ukrainian membership of NATO, however, remains an unlikely prospect, at least in the near future, Reuters noted in its coverage of the news.

Rasmussen also said that Russian troops are “engaged in direct military operations inside Ukraine.”

“This is a blatant violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity. It defies all diplomatic efforts for a peaceful solution," NATO Secretary General said.

Moscow denies its forces are fighting to support pro-Russian rebels who have declared independence in eastern Ukraine.

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Tags: NATO, Rasmussen, Ukraine, Russia, incursion, invasion, membership, military alliance, Yatsenyuk, non-aligned status


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