Ukrainian politicians and media on Friday reacted angrily to NATO's decision to defer giving the former Soviet republic a quick route to membership, calling the Brussels move "a betrayal" and "a sell out." ( dpa )
Andry Shkil, a nationalist politician and MP for the ruling Motherland party, was among the most outspoken, describing German and French opposition to an immediate Membership Accession Plan (MAP) for Ukraine "nothing less than a second Munich," referring to the sell-out of Czechoslovakia by Western powers to Hitler in 1938.
"We now can see who are the real opponents to Ukrainian membership in NATO," Shkil said, according to a Korrespondent magazine article. "Their promises turned out to be empty air."
NATO leaders on Thursday rejected a proposal to give Ukraine a fast track to membership. The leader of the opposition was, according to reports, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who along with France was worried about harming relations with Russia.
Shkil rejected claims by a NATO spokesman that the alliance in fact was in favour of Ukrainian membership, but had just decided to defer a formal decision on allowing Ukraine to move forward in the accession process until December.
"If they had wanted us in, they would have extended the invitation," Shkil said. "They didn't...and I for one am glad I don't own a German or French car, but a Japanese one."
On the other side of Ukraine's political spectrum Viktor Yanukovich, leader of the opposition Regions Ukraine party, called Ukraine's failure to obtain an invitation during the recent NATO summit in Bucharest "nothing more or less than the natural outcome of political pressures."
"No other outcome could have been possible, as no one but a few Kiev politicians are for it," Yanukovich said, according to an Interfax news agency report.
Yanukovich is a strong supporter of closer Ukrainian relations with Russia, and opposes his country even considering membership in NATO. Roughly two in three Ukrainians oppose NATO, according to polls.
Sehodnia newspaper, the country's largest daily, led its Friday report on NATO's decision to defer MAP discussions regarding NATO to a later date with the headline: "No place for Ukraine in Europe."
The article repeated a common Ukrainian complaint that, although NATO nations appeared happy to accept Ukrainians as illegal migrant labourers, they seemed unwilling to give Ukraine the same treatment as neighbouring Romania and Poland.
Almost as grating to many Ukrainians is the fact that Ukraine's military has contributed troops to every NATO peacekeeping mission currently in progress, making it the only non-NATO nation to do so.
"We Ukrainians are acceptable to them (NATO nations) as cannon fodder or to clean toilets - just not as equals," declared Natalia Vitrenko, an extreme Left politician and outspoken NATO opponent. "And if somehow Ukraine were to join, there would be nothing left but civil war."
Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko on Friday attempted to put the best face on the non-extension of a MAP programme to Ukraine during the Bucharest summit, saying "we have received wholesale support and I am sure we will get a positive result within this year or the next the main thing is to keep working."
But the authoritative Ukrainska Pravda web magazine, and much of Ukrainian mainstream media, attacked that spin on NATO's "no" to Ukraine.
"This is nothing less than a foreign policy failure by the President," the magazine editorialized. "Before travelling to Romania he said he was confident of success, and 'success' is not coming home with empty hands."
Yushchenko on Friday, one day after NATO leaders backed off from the idea of Ukrainian membership, sacked Oleg Demin and Ihor Dologov, his country's ambassadors to Russia and Germany respectively.
Spokesman from Yushchenko's office had no comment on the reasons for the sackings.