Ukraine set to outlaw Nato bases after Russian threats

The Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko has promised to pass a law outlawing Nato military bases on his country's territory just a day after Vladimir Putin had threatened to point nuclear missiles at Ukraine if the country joined the alliance.

Last month Mr Yushchenko and Ukraine's pro-Western Prime Minister Julia Timoshenko, the pair who led the Orange Revolution in 2004, asked Nato to begin considering Ukrainian membership – a move hugely controversial among a large section of the Ukrainian population and strongly criticised by Moscow.

After meeting the Ukrainian leader on Tuesday, Mr Putin said that Nato membership could well mean that Nato military bases or elements of a planned US missile shield would be placed in Ukraine, and that Russia would be forced to respond. "I am not only terrified to utter this, it is scary even to think it," said Mr Putin. "Russia would have to target its offensive rocket systems at Ukraine."

Russian officials have previously suggested that were Ukraine to join Nato, Russia would introduce a visa regime for Ukrainian citizens, complicating the lives of millions of Ukrainians who work in Russia or have relatives there.

Mr Putin's comments came after the two presidents agreed to a last-minute deal to keep gas flowing between the two countries. Russia had threatened to cut off gas to Ukraine unless a £750m debt was paid for earlier supplies. This caused alarm in European countries, which receive much Russian and central Asian gas through pipes that go through Ukraine. Gas was cut off in 2006 when Russia demanded that Ukraine pay closer to market prices for its gas in what analysts said was retaliation for Ukraine's pro-Western course. Previously, the country received gas at heavily subsidised rates.

Ms Timoshenko, who began a second stint as prime minister late last year and has strongly criticised Russia on many occasions, has said that the debt this time was caused by shady intermediary companies that were brought into the equation after the 2006 stand-off. She demanded that Ukraine buy gas from the Russian company Gazprom directly, rather than using the current opaque system.

The deal reached in Moscow this week seems to satisfy both sides for now, but Russian-Ukrainian relations are still fraught with difficulty. Ukrainian citizens in the Russian-speaking eastern part of the country have complained that a raft of discriminatory legislation has been passed in recent months. One of the most controversial was a law stating that cinemas could only show films that were dubbed into Ukrainian. Many cinemas in the Russian-speaking parts of the country have simply closed down.

Earlier in the week, 50 MPs from the Party of the Regions stopped the work of the Ukrainian parliament by blocking the rostrum and waving balloons in the colour of the Ukrainian flag inscribed with "No to Nato!" The party is headed by Viktor Yanukovich, who was defeated by Mr Yushchenko in the re-run presidential election that followed the Orange Revolution.

He is demanding a plebiscite on Nato accession and yesterday in Moscow, Mr Yushchenko appeared to accede to that demand, saying that a referendum would be held "in good time".

News
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
science
News
Richard Dawkins dedicated his book 'The Greatest Show on Earth' to Josh Timonen
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Extras
indybest
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Travel
Dinosaurs Unleashed at the Eden Project
travel
Arts and Entertainment
music
Sport
football
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
News
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, Graduate, SQL, VBA)

£45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, ...

Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Perl, Bash, SQL)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Per...

C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB6, WinForms)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB...

C# Developer (Genetic Algorithms, .NET 4.5, TDD, SQL, AI)

£40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home