Ukraine Keen to Hold Referendum on Joining NATO

Ukrainian President Petro PoroshenkoUkrainian President Petro Poroshenko

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko told a German newspaper he will seek to hold a national referendum on the question of whether to seek to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Poroshenko said the idea of joining NATO, the western military alliance, has grown in popularity as violence with Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine has persisted, UPI reported.

New violence between Ukrainian forces and separatists flared up this week in the town of Avdiivka.

Poroshenko said he would work toward accession to NATO if a majority of Ukrainians pass the referendum.

“Four years ago, only 16% of Ukrainian people supported the idea of Ukraine joining NATO. Now 54% of Ukrainians support the idea,” Poroshenko said. 

“As a president, I am guided by the views of my people—I will hold a referendum on Ukraine’s prospects for membership in NATO.”

Whether NATO’s member states are interested in taking on Ukraine as an ally remains an open question.

According to The Wall Street Journal, western diplomats in Washington and across Europe have been searching for new ways to engage Russia, though renewed violence in Ukraine has made matters more difficult.

The Journal reported on Wednesday that NATO officials scrapped plans to meet with Ukrainian counterparts to discuss NATO’s missile defense system shield in neighboring Romania out of concern the meeting would be seen by Moscow as a provocation.

The relationship between NATO and Russia is at a delicate moment, diplomats acknowledged. NATO countries, led by the United States, have undertaken the largest peacetime troop deployment in Europe since the end of the Cold War.

The military buildup comes as the new US administration is widely viewed as willing to seek a more cooperative relationship with Russia.


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