14:33 02.04.2014

Question of Ukraine's membership of NATO may split country - Poroshenko

3 min read

The level of popular support for the idea of Ukraine's joining NATO is currently too small to put this idea on the agenda, lawmaker Petro Poroshenko, who is running for president of Ukraine, has said.

"If the idea is supported by less than 50%, then we cannot use it, so as not to ruin the country," he said during Dragon Capital's 10th annual investment conference in Kyiv on Wednesday.

Poroshenko said Russian aggression had led to the fact that a record number of Ukrainians currently support Ukraine's accession to NATO - 39%, whereas earlier their percentage was only about 20%.

"The answer to the question of whether Ukraine will join NATO is not an answer [that will be given] in the Kremlin," he said.

Poroshenko added that this answer could not be given even in Kyiv, recalling the story with the blocking of the provision of a NATO Membership Action Plan to Ukraine at the alliance's summit in Bucharest in 2008.

He said that in such circumstances he supported special security agreements with guarantor countries. He said that he had already discussed such an idea at recent meetings with French President Francois Hollande and British Prime Minister David Cameron.

In an interview with the German newspaper Bild released on Wednesday, when asked whether Ukraine intends to immediately join the alliance, Poroshenko said: "No, and it does not depend only on us, but also on NATO. We feel that NATO members are divided on this issue. We have already seen this problem in 2008, when Georgia was first promised membership, but nothing happened then."

"As president, I want to talk to countries, our neighbors about new alliances and additional protective measures," he said.

Poroshenko also said he did not really expect Russia's immediate invasion of eastern Ukraine, though he still sees a "great danger" here.

"Russia must know that if they attack eastern Ukraine, we will defend ourselves using all military means at our disposal. There is a great desire to protect our country - and my son declared his readiness to go to the border - it makes me proud, and at the same time, of course, worried," the politician said.

When asked whether Ukraine needs military support from the West, Poroshenko said: "We are not talking only about military support. There is the possibility of further sanctions, economic embargoes. I think, for example, it would be right for Germany to boycott Russian gas until Russia stops the invasion of Crimea."

"A boycott of Russian gas would be a real sanction, and this would force Russia to its knees economically. Germany and Europe can simultaneously use alternative forms of energy. Germany is not dependent on Russian gas. Sometimes you have to pay a price for democracy. The Bundeswehr also costs Germany a lot of money," Poroshenko said, commenting on the interviewer's remark that a boycott of Russian gas would be difficult for the German economy.