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Ukraine to take part in NATO Response Force

RIA Novosti

13/06/2008 17:21 BRUSSELS, June 13 (RIA Novosti) - Ukraine will contribute to the NATO Response Force as a partner country, NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said on Friday.

The Response Force consists of rapid deployment forces with land, air and sea components, capable of swiftly reacting to crisis situations.

Scheffer's announcement came after a Ukraine-NATO commission meeting in Brussels, held as part of the Western military alliance's two-day meeting of defense ministers.

Ukraine was one of the first NATO partner countries to offer to play a role in the NATO Response Force.

The country's pro-Western leadership has been pursuing NATO membership since 2004, when President Viktor Yushchenko came to power. Ukraine failed to secure membership in the NATO Membership Action Plan, a key step toward joining the alliance, at a NATO summit in April, but was told the decision would be reviewed in December.

Russia staunchly opposes the post-Soviet country's NATO ambitions, and the Kremlin threatened in February to retarget missiles at Ukraine if it joins NATO.

A poll conducted in April by the FOM-Ukraina pollster showed a majority of Ukrainians oppose NATO membership.

The poll found that 54.9% of respondents would vote against joining the military alliance if a referendum were to be held, while 22.3% would vote in favor.

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