NATO reassures Ukraine over its membership aspirations
NATO on Wednesday reassured Ukraine about its prospects of joining the transatlantic alliance, with both sides condemning Russia's decision to recognize Georgia's breakaway regions.
At a meeting in Brussels between ambassadors from NATO and Ukraine - the first such meeting since the outbreak of the conflict in Georgia - the sides expressed "deep concern over the current situation in Georgia, and its implications on the security in the Caucasus and the Euro-Atlantic area".
"Our nations support the territorial integrity, independence and sovereignty of partner nations" such as Georgia and Ukraine, a statement from NATO read.
"The NATO-Ukraine Commission condemned the decision by the Russian Federation to extend recognition to the South Ossetia and Abkhazia regions of Georgia," the sides said in a statement.
The meeting was also attended by Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Konstiantyn Yeliseyev, who acts as his country's special envoy to Georgia.
Yeliseyev, who paid a recent visit to the troubled region, expressed Ukraine's "readiness to contribute to the settlement of the conflict (in Georgia)."
NATO ambassadors welcomed the offer and reiterated their willingness to invite Georgia and Ukraine into the alliance at a future stage.
Wednesday's meeting came just hours after French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner had warned that Russia could in future attempt to destabilize other former Soviet regions and countries such as "Crimea, Ukraine, Moldova."
Crimea, a former Russian peninsula which is now part of Ukraine, still hosts Russia's Black Sea fleet, which was used to attack Georgia in the recent conflict, dpa reported.