KIEV, April 9 – Ukraine is “disappointed” by comments by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov that Moscow would do all it can to prevent Kiev’s accession to NATO, Foreign Minister Volodymyr Ohryzko said Wednesday.
Ohryzko, who will soon travel to Moscow for consultations over NATO, said the comments had created a “very negative” background for bilateral relations between the two countries.
“It’s a great pity,” Ohryzko told reporters in Cairo, where he accompanies President Viktor Yushchenko for a visit to Egypt. “I want to stress that I am disappointed.”
“The comments create a very negative background for the development of bilateral relations,” Ohryzko said.
This is the sharpest reaction yet from the Ukrainian foreign ministry over the comments made by his Russian counterpart over Ukraine’s push to join NATO, suggesting relations between the two countries may seriously worsen.
Lavrov warned that the bids by Ukraine and Georgia, Russia's two neighbors, to join the Western alliance could worsen the Kremlin's relations with the countries supporting them.
"We will do all we can to prevent Ukraine's and Georgia's accession into NATO and to avoid an inevitable serious exacerbation of our relations with both the alliance and our neighbors," Lavrov said on Ekho Moskvy radio.
Ohryzko, pointing to Moscow’s aggressive rhetoric, suggested that Lavrov’s comments were a good reason why Ukraine should actually join NATO as quickly as possible.
“I believe that statements that had been made over the past couple days show that they [in Moscow] continue to fail to understand us as a state,” Ohryzko said. “They still don’t want to see us as an independent, sovereign and a democratic country.”
A NATO summit last week rejected starting Ukraine and Georgia on the path to membership despite strong support from the U.S.
Germany, France and some others feared such a move would strain ties with Moscow. NATO, however, has promised to incorporate both nations at some point.
Yushchenko, a pro-Western leader who attended the summit, said Ukraine’s membership in the alliance was needed to protect its independence and was “a matter of time.” (tl/ez)