Ukraine wants to seek NATO membership: PM

AFP, Friday 29 Aug 2014

Ukraine's Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said Friday that the government is seeking to join NATO and is submitting a relevant bill to parliament to end the country's official 'non-bloc' policy.

"The government is entering a bill to Verkhovna Rada (parliament) about the cancellation of Ukraine's non-bloc status and resumption of Ukraine's course for NATO membership.

The bill, if passed, would forbid Ukraine from taking a decision on membership in "any other economic, political, or other unions" that would prevent the country from eventually joining the European Union, he said.

"The adoption of this law would mean that Ukraine would be forbidden from membership in the Customs Union, as well as the Eurasian Union, or any other unions that are in essence nothing other than Russia's Soviet Union."

NATO ambassadors were holding a crisis meeting after the alliance said Russia had at least 1,000 troops fighting to support a lightning rebel counter-offensive against Ukrainian government forces.

Yatsenyuk earlier this week asked NATO for "practical help" as Kiev's army is fighting an insurgency in east Ukraine and accusing Russia of sending regular army contingents that have seized key towns.

Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko is due to travel to a NATO summit in Newport, Wales next week where he is scheduled to meet with US President Barack Obama.

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