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Russia: State Duma cautions Ukraine against NATO membership

The Russian parliament issued a statement on Wednesday saying that Ukraine’s accession to NATO would unilaterally terminate a friendship treaty with Russia.

The State Duma, the lower house of parliament, adopted the statement to bring to the attention of the country’s leadership Ukraine’s ‘unfriendly’ policies. The treaty in question is the bilateral Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership, signed in 1997. “We have brought to the attention of our country’s leadership that the actions of the Ukrainian authorities, in particular, the accelerated steps toward joining the NATO Membership Action Plan (MAP), are unfriendly in regard to Russia,” the head of the State Duma Committee on CIS affairs, Alexei Ostrovsky, said.

At a summit in Bucharest in April, NATO members decided to postpone offering Ukraine, along with Georgia, membership of MAP, but promised to review the decision in December. The ex-Soviet republics had received strong US backing for their bids. The Kremlin threatened in February to target missiles at Ukraine, if Kiev joins NATO and allows Western military facilities on its territory. Ostrovsky earlier expressed concerns over recent attempts by the Ukrainian leadership to expel Russia’s Black Sea fleet from Sevastopol, in the Crimea, before the agreement on the base expires in 2017.

The decision by Russian lawmakers to address Russian-Ukrainian relations comes shortly after Ukraine’s ex-foreign minister, Konstyantyn Gryshchenko, was appointed ambassador to Russia. The appointment of Gryshchenko, who served in the government of the former pro-Russian premier, Viktor Yanukovych, raised hopes that relations between the two former Soviet republics would improve. (rian.ru)