Ukraine to join NATO force this year despite new leader

Ukraine to join NATO force this year despite new leader
# 07 May 2010 01:15 (UTC +04:00)
Baku-APA. Despite the election of a new president widely seen as pro-Russian, Ukrainian troops still plan to join NATO’s rapid reaction force later this year, the chairman of the NATO Military Committee has said, APA reports quoting RIA Novosti.
The previous president, Viktor Yushchenko, pursued strongly pro-Western policies. The new leader, Viktor Yanukovych has stepped back from his predecessor’s drive towards NATO, saying that Kiev will stay out of all international defense blocs.
"Ukraine will start making contributions into NATO Response Force in the second half of 2010," Adm. Giampaolo di Paola told journalists in Brussels.
Launched in 2002, the Response Force (NRF) consists of rapid deployment forces with land, air and sea components, capable of swiftly reacting to crisis situations.
The troops are supplied by participating states on rotation basis. The NRF has never been deployed for combat operations.
A spokesman for the NATO military committee said in late January that Ukraine had been invited to join the NRF as a partner country in 2015-16. The ex-Soviet state would become the first non-NATO country to join the Response Force.
Ukraine failed to secure membership in the NATO Membership Action Plan, a key step toward joining the alliance, at a NATO summit in April 2008. In early April Yanukovych abolished Ukraine’s National Centre for Euro-Atlantic Integration.
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