Russia on Wednesday called for Ukraine to stay out of the NATO alliance, insisting that a “non-aligned status” was in the interests of the ex-Soviet country.
“There is no doubt that (Ukraine’s) non-aligned status is important not only from the point of view of ensuring stability in the European Atlantic but also from the point of view of fundamental national interests of the Ukrainian people,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters.
He said Russia had long proposed a legally binding agreement that would honor the principles of “indivisibility of security” but the West had shot down the idea.
He spoke after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman told BBC that Russia needed “a 100 percent guarantee that no-one would think about Ukraine joining NATO.”
Reached by AFP, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined further details.
Speaking after talks with his Hungarian counterpart Peter Szijjarto, Lavrov said that verbal guarantees from the West that NATO would not be expanding to the east were not enough.
He said it was “real potential” and intentions that mattered.
“We’ve been forced to take this into account and are continuing to take this into account,” Lavrov said.
In September, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko pleaded with the United States to provide his country with “special”, non-NATO security status to help beef up its defences against aggression from Russia.