NATO will not be seeking Russia's permission for Ukraine to join the Alliance.
"It's for Ukraine to decide its own path, whether they want to join NATO or not," NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told The Associated Press when asked about Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko's recent comment that his country's military aims to meet the criteria for NATO membership by 2020.
"At the end of the day it will be 29 allies and Ukraine that decides whether Ukraine is ready to meet the standards of joining NATO," he said.
Speaking to The Associated Press shortly before the meeting on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly , Stoltenberg expressed concern about Russia's military interference in Ukraine and Georgia, support for Syria's Bashar Assad, and the buildup of Russia's naval forces in the eastern Mediterranean.
Improving communication between NATO and Russia could help defuse tensions, Stoltenberg said, as long as conflicts like that in Ukraine remain unresolved. "At least to manage a difficult relationship, to avoid miscalculations, misunderstandings that can trigger really serious incidents or accidents and make sure that if they happen, make sure that they don't spiral out of control."
As UNIAN reported earlier, Ukraine's parliament on September 20 sent to the Constitutional Court a presidential bill amending Ukraine's Constitution regarding the strategic course of the state for obtaining full membership of Ukraine in the EU and NATO (No. 9037).
The bill proposes that Ukraine's irreversible course toward European and Euro-Atlantic integration be stipulated in the preamble of the Fundamental Law along with the confirmation of European identity of the Ukrainian people.
Article 85 suggests defining that the powers of the Verkhovna Rada include determining the foundations of domestic and foreign policy, implementing the state's strategic course for obtaining full membership of Ukraine in the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
Article 102 is supplemented with the provision that "the president of Ukraine is the guarantor of the implementation of the state's strategic course for obtaining Ukraine's full membership in the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization."
Article 116 is amended with a new clause, according to which the Cabinet of Ministers "ensures the implementation of the state's strategic course for obtaining Ukraine's full membership in the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization."
At the same time, Clause 14 of Section 15 "Transitional Provisions" is proposed to be excluded from the Constitution. It says that the use of existing military bases on the territory of Ukraine for the temporary stationing of foreign military formations is possible on a lease basis in the manner determined by international treaties of Ukraine ratified by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.