Monday, April 26, 2010

Rasmussen: Russian naval base deal will not prevent Ukraine from joining NATO

April 23, 2010 (UKRINFORM). The signing of a Ukrainian-Russian agreement on the Black Sea Fleet will not prevent Ukraine from joining NATO, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said at an informal meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Tallinn, Estonia, on April 22, UKRINFORM has reported, citing Reuters.
"It's a bilateral agreement and it will have no impact on our relationship either with Russia or with Ukraine," he said.
Rasmussen said that Ukraine would become a NATO member only if the necessary criteria were fulfilled. The NATO secretary general said earlier that the presidential election in Ukraine had not changed the alliance's attitude towards the country. NATO spokesman James Appathurai said that the signing of the agreement extending the lease on the Russian naval base in Sevastopol had been a bilateral affair of Ukraine and Russia. As UKRINFORM reported, Ukrainian and Russian Presidents Viktor Yanukovych and Dmitry Medvedev on April 21 signed an agreement on the extension of the Russian Black Sea Fleet's presence on Ukrainian soil by 25 years with the right to prolong it for five more years if one of the sides expresses such a desire.
Under the current agreement and in accordance with the Constitution of Ukraine, the presence of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Ukraine is limited to 2017. The new agreement should be ratified by the parliaments of the two countries.