Ukraine Drops Non-Aligned Status, Opens Door to NATO

AP Photo/Mykola Lazarenko, Pool
AP Photo/Mykola Lazarenko, Pool

Ukraine’s new Parliament voted to end all blocks on forming alliances with foreign military. The bill pushes Ukraine closer to a NATO membership, which caused backlash from Russia. Moscow pressured Ukraine to adopt the non-aligned status in 2010 when Russia-backed President Viktor Yanukovych was in office.

President Petro Poroshenko said the new bill will only help Ukraine’s independence as war rages on in the east against Russia. The bill passed 303-8.

“Voting by constitutional majority to give up non-bloc status should be the first step to Ukraine’s steady integration into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization,” said Hryhoriy Nemyria, lawmaker from the Batkivshchyna Party.

Moscow is not pleased with Ukraine’s bill.

“It only fuels confrontation,” said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. “It’s an illusion that adopting laws can settle the deep internal crisis in Ukraine.”

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev wrote a scathing Facebook post against the new bill. “[The] Ukrainian president has submitted to the Verkhovna Rada a bill on dropping Ukraine’s non-aligned status,” he said. “Essentially, this is a bid to join NATO, which turns Ukraine into a potential enemy of Russia.”

He also said that “relations with America will be poisoned for decades to come” after Congress passed the Ukraine Freedom Act with the Jackson-Vanik amendment. The act allows the United States to send military aid to Ukraine and pass more sanctions against Russia.

Russia warned Ukraine numerous times not to even consider joining NATO. Lavrov said Russia would treat a Ukrainian NATO membership “as a national security threat.”

“It is precisely at such a moment when a chance has emerged to start solving specific problems between Kiev and the militias that some sections of the Kiev authorities make demands for Ukraine to drop its non-aligned status and start joining NATO,” he said. “It’s a blatant attempt to derail all efforts aimed at initiating a dialogue on ensuring national reconciliation.”

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov believes a NATO membership will only cause more trouble in the troubled east.

“I am convinced that what has been announced now by the Ukrainian leadership will only bring a further escalation of the situation around Ukraine,” he said.