Russia has warned Ukraine against integration with NATO, as Kiev approves a series of joint drills with the Western military alliance.
The Russian Foreign Ministry has warned Tuesday that Kiev’s previous attempts to move closer to NATO had strained ties with Moscow, as well as the relationship between Russia and the defense alliance.
“(Past attempts) led to a freezing of Russian-Ukrainian political contacts, a headache between NATO and Russia and … to a division in Ukrainian society,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
The Kremlin seeks a neutrality clause in Ukraine’s constitution to prevent it from joining NATO.
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s parliament approved a series of joint drills with the Western military alliance, including two sets of joint exercises with the United States this summer.
Kiev also plans an additional set of war games with Poland, as well as joint ground operations with Moldova and Romania.
This is while NATO foreign ministers gathered in Brussels during a two-day ministerial meeting to evaluate their relations with Moscow.
The ministers plan to discuss new steps to reinforce eastern European countries and find ways of bolstering Ukraine’s armed forces.
Tensions between the Western powers and Moscow heightened after Crimea declared independence from Ukraine and formally applied to become part of the Russian Federation following a referendum on March 16, in which nearly 97 percent of voters in Crimea said yes to reunion with Russia.
The move sparked angry reactions from the United States and the European Union, both imposing punitive measures against a number of Russian officials and authorities in Crimea.
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has recently accused Russia of violating Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty in an article for Germany’s Welt am Sonntag newspaper.