Lavrov, Yatsenyuk trade barbs over NATO
Ukraine’s non-aligned status is "a basic issue" for Moscow and efforts in Kiev to scrap it are an American-inspired bid to drive a wedge between Russia and Europe, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said on Saturday.
Lavrov, commenting on a draft law to change Kiev’s military status, said neutrality "answers the interests of the Ukrainian people, the legitimate interests of all neighbours and partners of Ukraine, and also the interests of European security."
The draft law, submitted to parliament by the government of Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk, was also "a direct affront to the president of the country," he said, implying President Petro Poroshenko did not support it.
Speaking at a conference in Kiev attended by Ukrainian and European lawmakers and business leaders on Saturday, Yatsenyuk made clear he did not view the present cease-fire as the start of a sustainable peace process because of President Vladimir Putin’s ambitions.
Asked about future NATO membership, a red line for Russia, Yatsenyuk said he realized the alliance was not ready now to admit Kiev, but added： "NATO in these particular circumstances is the only vehicle to protect Ukraine."