MOSCOW – Aspiring NATO member Ukraine is prepared to adopt legislation banning the alliance’s bases from its soil, Russia’s RIA news agency quoted Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko as saying on Wednesday.
“If the Russian side is worried about military bases then Ukraine will never go for that … We are ready to underpin that constitutionally,” he said at a meeting with members of the Ukrainian community in Moscow.
Russian President Vladimir Putin warned at a meeting with Yushchenko on Tuesday that Moscow could be obliged to aim its missiles at Ukraine, its neighbor and former Soviet satellite, if it joined NATO.
Ukraine’s constitution already bans it from hosting foreign military bases, with the exception of the Ukrainian port of Sevastopol, where Russia leases a base for its Black Sea fleet.
Several of Russia’s former military allies in eastern Europe have joined NATO since the 1991 break up of the Soviet Union.
Ukraine has applied to NATO for a Membership Action Plan, the first step on the path to membership. NATO members are expected to discuss the application at a summit in April.