January 27th, 2008 12:14 EST
Russia is concerned over Ukraine's drive to join NATO
Russia is concerned over Ukraine's drive to join NATO, which may seriously harm Russian-Ukrainian relations, the Foreign Ministry said on Saturday.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin and Ukrainian Ambassador to Russia Oleh Dyomin met late Friday to discuss prospects of Russian-Ukrainian relations in the light of Ukraine's future membership in NATO.
"The desire to accelerate [Ukraine's] accession to this military-political bloc, expressed by the Ukrainian leadership, will entail serious consequences for the development of Russian-Ukrainian relations and will harm European security in general," the ministry said in a statement, summarizing the results of the talks.
Last week, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Volodymyr Ohryzko handed over a request for Ukraine to join NATO's Membership Action Plan to the alliance's secretary general, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer. The Action Plan is a necessary step on the path to eventual full membership of the organization.
Meanwhile, members of the Party of Regions and the Communist Party of Ukraine have urged the country's leadership to recall the request for NATO membership, claiming that such a step was only possible after a referendum.
Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko had previously stated that a decision on whether Ukraine should take up any future NATO offer to join the alliance would only be taken after a national referendum.
A recent poll carried out by Ukraine's Democratic Initiatives foundation reported that over 50% of Ukrainians would vote against joining NATO. In the survey, 51.9% of respondents said they viewed NATO as an "aggressive imperialist bloc that would draw Ukraine into military conflicts."
On Friday, Russian lawmakers terminated an agreement with Ukraine on early warning and space monitoring systems, citing Ukraine's failure to provide adequate technical support to radar facilities located on its territory.
Source:Russia News Room