The Russian Foreign Ministry said Saturday Ukraine`s potential membership in NATO could negatively affect relations between the two countries.

The ministry said in a statement that Russian-Ukrainian relations would be significantly altered if Russia`s neighbor is allowed to join the international group, RIA Novosti reported.

The desire to accelerate (Ukraine`s) accession to this military-political bloc, expressed by the Ukrainian leadership, will entail serious consequences for the development of Russian-Ukrainian relations and will harm European security in general, the ministry said.

The Russian ministry`s comments come in the wake of Ukrainian Foreign Minister Volodymyr Ohryzko`s decision to take another step toward NATO membership by attempting to join the group`s Membership Action Plan.

The Ukrainian minister`s move comes as more than half of Ukrainian citizens appear to oppose NATO membership. RIA Novosti said a recent poll indicated 51.9 percent of Ukrainian respondents saw NATO as an aggressive imperialist bloc that would draw Ukraine into military conflicts.