Updated on 01:54 p.m. Moscow Time
MOSCOW, September 2 (RIA Novosti) – Ukraine’s initiative to change its “non-bloc status” and join NATO undermines efforts in settling the Ukrainian crisis peacefully, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Tuesday.
“There is one very interesting fact: that this initiative appeared right after the meeting in Minsk where agreements on the process of the Contact Group were trying to find a commonly acceptable decision on the current domestic crisis in Ukraine,” Lavrov said during a live televised joint press conference with Tunisian Foreign Minister Mongi Hamdi.
Lavrov said that the “peace party” in Kiev is trying to develop a negotiation-based and political solution to the crisis in Ukraine, whereas the “war party” is taking steps “targeted at undermining these efforts.”
“It’s quite unfortunate that such moods in strengthening the positions of the ‘war party’ are actively warmed up and urged on out of Washington and several European capitals, and more and more often out of Brussels and from the NATO Headquarters where the secretary-general of the North Atlantic Alliance with or without reason comes out with announcements that do not fall under his jurisdiction,” Lavrov said.
Last week, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk introduced legislation to the country’s parliament to drop its “non-aligned bloc” status, renewing its path to becoming a member of NATO.
Earlier, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that during September’s NATO summit in Wales, the alliance will “take decisions as to how we will enhance our cooperation with Ukraine,” including providing financial assistance for logistics, command and control, cyber defense and aid to military personnel.
However, NATO regulations do not allow countries involved in territorial disputes to become members, currently is the case with Ukraine, due to its refusal to acknowledge Crimea’s reunification with Russia.
Following the reunification in March 2014, NATO has been boosting its military presence close to Russia’s border. In particular, dispatching a number of warships to the Black Sea and reinforcing air patrols in Baltic airspace.
In April, Washington sent four airborne units to Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia to support its NATO allies amid the fighting in eastern Ukraine.
Russia has repeatedly expressed concern over NATO’s increasing military presence in its neighboring states.