Kiev-NATO ties should not surprise Moscow - Ukrainian diplomat
The continuing close cooperation between Ukraine and NATO should have been expected by Russia, a Ukrainian diplomat said on Tuesday, adding that Kiev's ties with the alliance are not aimed against Moscow.
Commenting on media reports that Ukraine and NATO have strengthened cooperation by planning at least 64 joint events this year, the diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told RIA Novosti that Kiev and Brussels applied an "everything but membership" formula in their relations.
"If someone in Russia had illusions in this respect - that is their problem, we never intended to cut ties with the most powerful military organization in the world," he said.
The diplomat added that cooperation with the alliance helped Ukraine to conduct military reforms, modernization of its Armed Forces and training of military personnel, including staging military drills that would not be possible otherwise because of the lack of defense funds.
On June 6-18, Ukraine hosted Sea Breeze 2011, the largest multinational maritime exercise this year in the Black Sea.
"We openly inform our Russia colleagues about everything that we do with NATO," the diplomat said.
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has indicated that Ukraine will drop his predecessor Viktor Yuschenko's plans to attempt to seek NATO membership, a proposal that infuriated Russia, but has also said he will try to maintain good ties with both Moscow and the West.