WASHINGTON, October 10 (RIA Novosti) - Ukraine should not become a member of NATO and was never intended to become a NATO member, the former NATO Supreme Allied Commander of Europe told RIA Novosti.
"We don't need Ukraine as a member of NATO, we shouldn't put it in NATO. It's a different country. It was never our plan when we would talk about NATO enlargement to bring Ukraine into NATO," retired General Wesley Clark told RIA Novosti at an Atlantic Council discussion.
Clark continued that the escalation of the crisis in Ukraine and lack of support in the conflict from other NATO allies is "because the United States hasn't taken the lead on this."
Clark insisted that the close ties between Europe and the US were critical to meeting challenges on the European continent during the Cold War and remained a key component today.
"If you look at the challenges facing the United States, none of these challenges can be handled effectively unless we have really tight relations with... Europe... We maintained peace and security during the Cold War because we had this argument about the coupling of the United States and Europe."
Referring to the policy of nuclear deterrence and placement of nuclear weapons throughout Europe he noted, "We still need that policy. We still need that linkage just as much as we did then."
In recent months, the NATO military bloc has laid out a series of measures to revitalize the 28-member state alliance and increase the levels of a ready military force near the borders of Russia. The readiness action plan and increased troop rotations in Eastern Europe are being pursued with the stated goal of reassuring allies.
Russia has repeatedly warned Washington against trying to encircle it by pulling more and more ex-Soviet nations into the military alliance, but the souring relations between Moscow and the West in the face of Crimea's reunification with Russia led in April to a complete freeze in Russia-NATO relations, virtually ending any possibility of a dialogue.