Ukraine Seeks NATO Membership
(Ebru News/AP) NATO's chief sought to allay Russia's concerns about Ukraine's possible entry into the alliance on Monday, calling the idea that NATO wants bases on Ukrainian soil a "big myth." NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer had earlier held talks in Kiev with Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko and prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko over the former Soviet state's desire to join the alliance.
At a joint news conference, Ukranian President Viktor Yushchenko tried to play down the idea of NATO as a threat to Russia.
Russia views NATO as little more than an extension of the US military and has said Ukraine's membership would present a security threat.
NATO General Secretay Jaap de Hoop Scheffer says the decision is Ukraine's alone.
Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, NATO Secretary General
"It is crystal clear that any foreign policy which Ukraine might wish to follow - vis a vis European Union or vis a vis NATO - is a strictly sovereign decision by the Ukrainian government and finally by the Ukrainian people."
With Yushchenko seeking to bring Ukraine into NATO, former Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened earlier this year to target the nation with nuclear missiles if it joined and hosted missile-defense facilities.
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