Russian Bases Obstacle for Velvet Revolutionists' NATO Membership

ISTAMBUL, Turkey -- Russian bases in two former Soviet Republics Ukraine and Georgia, both of which were recently marked by the 'velvet revolutions', are reportedly seen as an obstacle for these countries becoming NATO members.

Within the scope of the newly approved "open doors policy" by the organization, an official invitation for the membership of Ukraine on April 21 was expected. The Lithuania Foreign Affairs Minister Antanas Valionis assigned by the organization said that the Ukraine- NATO Commission will deal with the issues of the official invitation for Ukraine and cooperation points. Valionis noted that any country that wishes to enter the organization would join it within the scope of the organization's new policies. The greatest obstacles, however, are the Russian bases in these countries preventing them from entering NATO. As an unclear treaty was obtained between Moscow and Tiflis on the subject to quit the Batum and Ahalkalaki military bases, the Russian military fleet in the Crimean seems to hamper Ukraine's NATO membership for some time. According to the treaties between the two sides, the center of the Russian Black Sea fleet will be positioned in the Crimean until the year 2017. Those countries who want to attend NATO must not host military bases from another country.

Ukraine Foreign Affairs Vice Minister Vladimir Ogrizko revealed that they would allow Russia time to leave the Crimean under its own free-will before their time is up. Observers, however, are stating comments that Russia would do anything to hamper the Ukraine joining NATO in order to be an obstacle to NATO settling in such a strategically important place like the Black Sea. If they fail to convince Russia, either the Ukraine will need to wait another year or another solution must be found. Some argue that one solution would be for Russia and Ukraine to become joint member of the alliance. Moscow had voiced opinions in some not very important decisions of the alliance through the NATO-Russia Council, which was formed in 2002. But this situation appears difficult to develop into full membership.

The new administration of the Ukraine where a western supported soft revolution was experienced wants to attend NATO and the EU as soon as possible. Moreover, Prime Minister Yulya Timaasenko and President Victor Yuescehnko who is in hurry to obtain his country's integration with the west are allegedly continually in discussions over these issues. The general view in Moscow is for the idea that Ukraine's cooperation with the west will seriously damage the Russian benefits. Some observers think on the other hand, Kiev's new administration will not be so harmful for Russia, it does not act as pro-western as Poland and Baltic Sea countries.

Kant Military Air Base in Kyrgyzstan where the location of the last 'velvet revolution' is under the control of Russia. There is a US' Manas Base 35 km away from this. The Russians also have Gebele Observation base in Azerbaijan and the number 102 military base in Armenia as well. It has also been suggested that Ayni Airport of Tacikistan (Tajikistan) would be rented out to the Russians. A top-level official from the Tajikistan Defense Secretary disclosed that the airport would be presented for the use by the number 201 Russian base.