Tuesday 12 December 2017

Ukraine sets sights on joining NATO

Russia-backed rebels take positions on the outskirts of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine Credit: Mstyslav Chernov)
Russia-backed rebels take positions on the outskirts of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine Credit: Mstyslav Chernov)

Pavel Polityuk

Ukraine has drawn up a new security doctrine with the aim of showing its value as a possible NATO member.

Oleksander Turchynov, head of the country's national security council, told a session of the body that Ukraine saw Russian aggression as a "long-standing factor" and viewed NATO membership as "the only reliable external guarantee" of its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Turchynov's comments and the move to draft a new security strategy are certain to raise hackles in Russia, which annexed the Crimean peninsula in March 2014 after a pro-Western leadership took power in Kiev in the wake of an uprising that ousted a Moscow-backed president.

Read More: Putin finally admits sending gunmen to 'bring Crimea back'

Russian officials have said the radical change of leadership in Kiev raises the strategic threat of US and NATO warships one day being based in the Black Sea waters off Crimea.

Moscow has backed separatists fighting Kiev government forces in eastern Ukraine, in a conflict in which more than 6,000 people have been killed.

Read More: Poland to build six watchtowers on border with Russian exclave

Turchynov said the five-year strategy was based on the reality of military aggression unleashed by Russia.

"For the first time in history a permanent member of the UN Security Council which possesses the nuclear weapon uses this factor to intimidate the international community and uses its military potential for annexation and seizing the territory of a European country," he said.

European and Euro-Atlantic integration was now a priority for Ukraine he said, and the country would aim to coordinate its armed forces and intelligence services with those of the Western alliance.

Read More: Six soldiers killed in new Ukraine violence

NATO has said membership is one day possible for Ukraine, but has declined to arm the Kiev government on the grounds that, as a non-member, it does not qualify for military help under NATO's collective defence rules.

The new military doctrine drawn up by the national security council will become policy once it has been endorsed by a decree from President Petro Poroshenko.


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