The Ukrainian parliament on Tuesday included the problem of giving up the non-bloc status in its agenda.
A total of 309 parliamentarians voted for the draft law to guarantee security to Ukraine. The law will confirm the country’s policy towards “membership in NATO and the country’s participation in creating and developing the European collective security system”. President Petro Poroshenko described the draft law as high priority.
For the first time the question was raised in March 1992 when the decision was taken to withdraw nuclear weapons from Ukraine’s territory after break-up of the USSR. Then president Leonid Kravchuk noted “Ukraine’s intention to become a nuclear-free and non-aligned state”. Four years later Kiev noted that the non-bloc status could be revised in the future. In April 1996 Defense Minister Valery Shmarov said, “The status cannot be eternal.”
“It is necessary to expand cooperation with the Alliance,” he said.
On December 8, leader of the People’s Front nationalist party Oleksandr Turchynov considered the issues “the priority of Ukraine’s national interests”.
Ukrainian permanent representative to NATO Igor Dolgov said on December 2 that the changes in Ukraine’s legislation open the way for developing relations with NATO and carrying out defense reforms. “When we feel ready to give an application for membership, then, as President Poroshenko said, we’ll ask citizens if they support membership in NATO or not. The referendum won’t be held tomorrow,” he said.
Poroshenko said Ukraine’s non-bloc status has not proved its value and it is necessary to give it up. “That is why we returned to integration into NATO. We strengthen cooperation and compatibility of our army with the Alliance’s and turn to NATO standards.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, meanwhile, said late in November that Kiev’s abandonment of the current non-bloc status meant a course towards solving the conflict in south-eastern Ukraine by force and struggle against Russia.