Ukraine's NATO Membership To Affect Ties With Moscow: Russian DM

KIEV, Ukraine -- Russia warned on Thursday that Ukraine's NATO membership would affect relations with Moscow "one way or another."

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov

"Regardless of whether we want this or not, it will have an inevitable impact one way or another on our relations, particularly on cooperation in the military-industrial sector and some other spheres," Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov told a news conference with his Ukrainian counterpart Anatoliy Hrytsenko.

Russia, Ukraine's biggest trade partner, has expressed strong opposition to the country's efforts to join NATO, while admitting that it was the country's sovereign right to do that.

The issue even remains a controversial one in Ukraine with President Viktor Yushchenko making NATO membership a priority and Premier Viktor Yanukovych trying to put the bid on hold.

Ivanov, who arrived in Kiev on Wednesday for a two-day visit, met later with Yushchenko to discuss Russian President Vladimir Putin's upcoming visit. Putin plans to travel to Kiev on Dec. 22.

Source: Xinhua