MOSCOW, March 24 (RIA Novosti) – The signing of a political pact between Ukraine and the European Union is a hasty step which points to the prospect of closer military ties between Kiev and NATO, a Russian foreign ministry source said Monday.
“The political provisions of the association deal pave the way for further entrenchment of Ukraine into the foreign policy and military orbit of the EU and the West in general,” the official said.
Russia has vociferously opposed any further eastward expansion by NATO, particularly by former Soviet republics on its borders. President Vladimir Putin said last week Moscow was open to further cooperation with NATO, but remained opposed to the organization’s presence in historic Russian territories.
Ukraine and Georgia have been lobbying to become NATO members for years, enjoying full support for their bids from the US, but alliance members rejected a proposal to offer them membership at a NATO summit in Bucharest in 2008.
Ukraine's Western-backed interim prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, appointed by the country’s parliament last month, signed the political portion of an expanded association agreement with the European Union in Brussels on Friday. A similar agreement was rejected by the country’s ousted president in November in favor of closer ties with Russia.
The economic and trade provisions of the deal will not be agreed upon until after the upcoming presidential election scheduled for May.
“We can expect that under current circumstances the signing of the agreement will be followed by steps towards closer cooperation, including in terms of the evolution of the Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP) and its potential link with NATO activity,” the source said.
“If the political association is considered a long-term choice made by both sides, why would the signing of such an important document be made with the head of a self-imposed government, without waiting for presidential elections in May?” the source said.
Russia does not recognize the interim government in Ukraine and insists that all new decisions should be taken by democratically-elected Ukrainian leaders after the May vote.