Ukraine is not yet ready to join NATO, the prime minister said Tuesday, according to RIA Novosti.
"I think Ukraine`s position, laid out this and last year, reflects the reality - Ukraine is not ready to join NATO at the moment," Viktor Yanukovych said in Brussels, commenting on a bill backing Ukraine`s NATO bid, which the U.S. Congress passed Monday night.
NATO membership is one of the main declared objectives of Ukraine`s Western-leaning president, Viktor Yushchenko. However, his efforts to take the post-Soviet country into the trans-Atlantic alliance and to forge closer ties with the European Union have been facing growing resistance from pro-Russian Prime Minister Yanukovych and the parliamentary majority he leads.
"The process of developing Ukraine`s cooperation with NATO is going on successfully in Ukraine, but as of now, it sets no timeframe on Ukraine`s entry into the alliance," Yanukovych said after a meeting with the head of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso.
According to Yanukovych, only 20% of the Ukrainian population supports the idea of the country joining NATO. "That is a very low rating," he said.
"The decision on Ukraine`s accession to NATO will be made in a national referendum," he said.
On Monday, the U.S. House of Representatives gave its final approval to legislation endorsing the enlargement of NATO to include Ukraine, as well as Georgia, Albania, Croatia and Macedonia.