Russia said yesterday that Ukraine's pursuit of Nato membership posed a danger to European security and threatened to sever its remaining ties to the Atlantic military alliance.
Ukraine's parliament renounced the country's neutral status this week in a significant step towards joining Nato.
Sergei Lavrov, Russia's foreign minister, said the West was using Ukraine's Nato bid to fuel confrontation between Russia and its neighbour. "There are a few Western countries that want to maintain the crisis in Ukraine and to maintain and boost the confrontation between Ukraine and Russia, including through provocative efforts towards membership in the Atlantic alliance," he said.
"The very idea of Ukraine's efforts to join Nato are dangerous, not only for Ukrainian people, because there is no unity over that issue, it is dangerous for European security."
A Nato official, who asked not to be named, said it was solely up to Kiev to decide on its foreign policy.
"Should Ukraine decide to apply for Nato membership, Nato will assess its readiness to join the alliance in the same way as with any candidate. This is an issue between Nato and the individual countries aspiring to membership," the official said.
Nato has already boosted its military presence in eastern Europe this year, saying it has evidence that Russia orchestrated and armed a pro-Russian rebellion in eastern Ukraine that followed the overthrow of a Kremlin-backed president in Kiev. (© Daily Telegraph, London)