TEHRAN, June 9, YJC - Ukraine's parliament has voted to back attempts by the crisis-torn ex-Soviet nation to seek NATO membership, a move set to heighten tensions with Russia.
TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) -
Ukrainian lawmakers on Thursday by a vote of 276 to 25 approved legal amendments enshrining seeking membership in NATO as one of Kiev's foreign policy priorities.
"The time has come for us to clearly declare Ukraine's desire to join NATO in Ukrainian legislation," speaker Andriy Parubiy, who authored the draft bill, told parliament before the vote.
Ukraine is yet to officially apply to start the lengthy process of joining the West military alliance.
Kiev’s pro-Western leadership pledged to push to join NATO after ties with Moscow collapsed following tensions in Ukraine’s eastern regions. Ukraine and its Western allies accuse Russia of having a hand in the conflict. Moscow denies the allegation.
The Kremlin, which has been angered by NATO’s expansionism into Russia’s sphere of influence in the former Soviet region, criticized the Ukraine vote.
"Moscow traditionally treats the process of NATO expansion towards our borders with distrust and concern," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists.
"We believe that this threatens our security and the balance of power in the Eurasian region."
This week the Balkan country Montenegro became NATO's 29th member much to the dismay of Russia.