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NATO has no plans yet to admit Georgia, Ukraine - Russia's envoy

RIA Novosti

22/02/2008 17:47 MOSCOW, February 22 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's envoy to NATO said on Friday the alliance is not currently considering admitting the former Soviet states of Georgia and Ukraine.

The countries have submitted requests since the start of this year to join the NATO Membership Action Plan, but the issue remains hotly debated in Georgia and Ukraine. Moscow has urged both countries not to join, fearing their membership could harm Russia's security.

"NATO is currently considering the admission of only one country, which is Croatia," Dmitry Rogozin said. "My partners are skeptical about the admission of Macedonia and Albania. There are no discussions at all about Ukraine and Georgia."

The official said Ukrainian and Georgian statements on their future membership in the alliance are "part of a political PR campaign aimed at teasing Russia and somehow unbalancing it."

He also said that Georgia does not meet any of the standards required for membership in NATO, while Ukraine is still undecided on the issue at a domestic level.

Russia has been unnerved by NATO's ongoing expansion, and last week at his last annual press conference in the Kremlin, President Vladimir Putin warned that Russia could retarget its missiles on Ukraine if the country joined NATO.

Ukraine later said it was prepared to pass legislation barring the deployment of NATO military bases on its soil should it join the military alliance.

A recent poll carried out by Ukraine's Democratic Initiatives foundation indicated that over 50% of Ukrainians would vote against joining NATO. In the survey, 51.9% of respondents said they viewed NATO as an "aggressive imperialist bloc that would draw Ukraine into military conflicts."

On Thursday, Putin warned his Georgian counterpart, Mikheil Saakashvili, that NATO membership would harm Georgia's relations with Russia.

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