Ukraine to stay out of military alliances

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Viktor Yanukovich, Ukraine's newly-elected president, urged the country's governing coalition to push a new law that would prevent the country from joining any military alliances, according to reports in the national press.

''This is the law which we need the most,'' Yanukovich told Ukraine Foreign Minister Konstantin Grishchenko.

The ruling coalition's foreign relations principles are based on remaining ''out-of-blocks',' according to its programme published by the parliament daily, Golos Ukraiyni. The country's existing partnership cooperation with NATO would be pursued, the text adds.

Yanukovich's predecessor, Viktor Yushchenko, had passed legislation enshrining the country's NATO accession as a strategic goal, the website News.ru Ukraine explained, adding that the new president is not against European integration, but is ''categorically against Ukraine's accession to NATO''.

The daily Ekonomichekie Izvestiya quotes Ukrainian diplomat Vladimir Vasilenko as describing the decision by the country's new rulers as ''irresponsible',' as it would ''reverse Ukraine's civilisation orientation'' and would impact negatively on the country's EU integration too.

Other commentators, however, said Ukraine had no realistic chance of joining the alliance and that the new decision better suited the country's interests.

The coalition's programme also deals with Russian relations, saying that they should be built on a long-term and stable basis, in an atmosphere of confidence and ''strategic partnership''.

As for relations with the US, the political programme states that an existing Charter of Strategic Partnership between the two countries should be implemented and that bilateral relations should be governed by the principles of efficiency and mutual interest. 

Positions: 

Sergey Tolstov, head of the Ukrainian Institute for Political Analysis and International Studies, said the prospect of the former Soviet republic joining NATO had died since Germany had in his terms categorically refused to discuss the issue, the Russian website News.ru writes.

Dmitri Vidrin, deputy head of Ukraine's National Security and Defence Council, said Kiev's neutral status would in fact help the country better live through the ''geopolitical crisis'' looming for all international structures.

''In my contacts with European leaders, including from NATO, I was told that if Ukraine sticks to an out-of-military-blocks status, this would be better for all. Ukraine is not ready for bold steps towards NATO, and neither are the Europeans. It may look strange, but everybody is happy today with our out-of-blocks status,'' he said.

In a commentary, Russian daily Pravda calls the move towards non-military alignment ''an abject failure for NATO and its continued plans to expand eastwards despite having given pledges to Moscow that this would not happen after the Warsaw Pact was disbanded''.

''Moscow has always claimed that Ukraine's policy is for Kiev to form, believing in the adage that for every action, there is a possible reaction. With Yanukovich, predictably, comes a pragmatic, sensible and balanced foreign policy,'' the daily writes.

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