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".

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
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

Recruitment Genius: Application Support Engineer - Software

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A small rapidly expanding IT So...

The Grange Retirement Home: Full Time Care Team Manager

£22,400: The Grange Retirement Home: This is a key role which requires a sound...

Guru Careers: Pricing Analyst

£30 - 35k: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Pricing Analyst to join a leading e-...

Guru Careers: Membership Administrator

£23K: Guru Careers: We're seeking an experienced Membership Administrator, to ...

Day In a Page

Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor
The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

The ZX Spectrum is back

The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

The quirks of work perks

From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

Is bridge becoming hip?

The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

The rise of Lego Clubs

How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships
5 best running glasses

On your marks: 5 best running glasses

Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
Joe Root: 'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

Joe Root says the England dressing room is a happy place again – and Stokes is the catalyst
Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada