Russia Reiterates Concern Over Ukraine's Bid For NATO Membership

MOSCOW, Russia -- Russia is concerned over Ukraine's bid to join NATO which may seriously harm the former Soviet republic's relations with Moscow, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement Saturday.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

"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.

The statement was issued one day after Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin held talks with Ukrainian Ambassador to Russia Oleh Dyomin on prospects of Russian-Ukrainian relations in light of Ukraine's future entry into NATO.

Last week, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Volodymyr Ohryzko formally requested NATO to admit Ukraine to its Membership Action Plan, which is a necessary step on the path to eventual full membership the RIA Novosti news agency reported.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko stated earlier that Ukraine would make its decision on whether to accept NATO's future membership offer after holding a national referendum on the issue.

A recent poll carried out by Ukraine's Democratic Initiatives foundation showed that over 50 percent of Ukrainians would vote against joining NATO.

In the survey, 51.9 percent of respondents said they viewed NATO as an "aggressive imperialist bloc that would draw Ukraine into military conflicts."

Source: Xinhua