Ukraine Gets Closer to NATO in Important Vote

The country’s status is no longer “non-aligned”

Ukraine took a major step on Tuesday in a parliamentary vote to drop its “non-aligned” status, which made the country ineligible to participate in military alliances and war—a status more famously upheld by Switzerland. As a result, Ukraine’s government could now apply to join NATO.

The move has angered the Russian government, which pressured Ukraine into adopting neutrality in 2010 and has said that the country must remain out of any bloc as a condition of peace in eastern Ukraine, where 4,700 have died in a pro-Russian uprising in the past eight months.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev took a strong stance against the vote, saying that an application to join NATO would “turn Ukraine into a potential military opponent for Russia,” and warned that the vote—as well as new sanctions against Russia signed by the U.S.—will both have “very negative consequences.”

Ukraine seeking NATO membership ‘a false solution’, says Russia

Kiev’s latest move to become a NATO ally is counterproductive and gives rise to false hope for resolving its political crisis, Moscow said. The Ukrainian parliament voted to repeal a law that upheld the country’s non-participation in military blocks.

The move on Tuesday is a step towards becoming a member of the North-Atlantic Treaty Organization, a goal the post-coup authorities in Kiev have made a key point of their foreign policies. Kiev says that Russia is the cause of the civil war that led to eastern parts of the country rebelling against the central government and hopes that NATO’s military might will help resolve the situation.

“This is counterproductive. It only escalates the confrontation and creates the illusion that the internal national crisis in Ukraine can be solved through adoption of laws like that,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov commented on the new legislation.

Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov. (RIA Novosti/Alexey Filippov)

“A much more productive and sensible way would be to finally start a dialogue with the part of the Ukrainian people that were ignored when the coup was staged,” he added. Lavrov called on Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to initiate a constitutional reform, which Kiev had pledged to do in April.

The law revoking Ukraine’s military non-alignment stance was adopted by 303 votes against nine, with 2 MPs abstaining and 56 not voting. Now the law states that establishing closer ties with NATO and eventual membership in the military bloc is a priority for the Ukrainian government.

The alliance noted Ukraine’s move and said it “respected” the parliament’s decision. Earlier some major members of NATO like Germany voiced doubt that Ukraine could join the organization anytime soon.

There are numerous obstacles, including Ukraine’s political and economic problems, a territorial dispute with Russia, and Moscow’s critical attitude towards Ukraine becoming part of NATO. Arguably the most strongly-worded comment was voiced by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev as the voting was about to start in Kiev.

With his move President Poroshenko “has made a de facto application to join NATO and turned Ukraine into a potential enemy of Russia,” Medvedev said.

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