Ukraine will hold NATO referendum

Nov 25, 2014, 12:21 AM EST
A resident clears a fragment of a Grad rocket launcher from his house destroyed as a result of shelling between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian militants in the eastern Ukrainian village of Krasnyi Pakhar, northeast of Donetsk, on November 23, 2014.
AFP/Getty Images

Ukraine will hold a referendum on joining Nato once it has met certain criteria for membership, President Petro Poroshenko has said. The BBC reports:

At a joint news conference with Lithuania's president, Mr Poroshenko said he had "worked out the criteria", but gave no further details. Last week, a Kremlin official called for "a 100% guarantee" that Ukraine would not think about joining Nato.

Ukraine has been fighting pro-Russian separatists for most of the year. Mr Poroshenko did not say what the criteria for Ukraine's membership were.

Nato itself says: "There is no fixed or rigid list of criteria for inviting new member states to join the alliance." However, countries are only admitted to Nato if it believes they will "contribute to security and stability in the North Atlantic area".

Analysts say Ukraine, destabilised by the fighting, is therefore unlikely to be seen as viable by Nato.

Wreckage from the site where Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crashed has arrived from rebel-held east Ukraine to the government-run city of Kharkiv. The BBC writes:

The pieces were transported by train, overseen by Dutch experts. The debris and unidentified human remains will then be taken to the Netherlands for examination. MH17 was shot down in July, killing all 298 people on board - mostly Dutch nationals.

Russia-backed rebels have been blamed, though they deny it. The exact cause of the crash in eastern Ukraine has not been established. Lack of security at the crash site, near the village of Grabove, led to weeks of delays, but a deal made with local militias eventually allowed the removal work to begin. Aircraft debris field and recovered parts identified on plane.

Parts of the plane were found 8km (5 miles) from the main debris site.

The Dutch experts have said they do not intend to recover all of the wreckage, concentrating, instead, on the wheels, wings and fuel tanks - the area of the plane where most of the unidentified passengers were seated. New amateur footage purports to show the immediate aftermath of the MH17 crash.

Meanwhile, President Vladimir Putin blamed the West for worsening relations with Russia since the Ukraine crisis and said Moscow would not allow itself to become internationally isolated behind another 'Iron Curtain.' Reuters reports:

In an interview published by state news agency TASS on Sunday, Putin also said Western sanctions against Moscow, combined with the slide in the rouble and oil price falls would have no "catastrophic consequences" on Russia's economy.

The United States and the European Union have imposed sanctions on Russia over its annexation of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula and ratcheted them up over Moscow's backing for separatists fighting Kiev troops to split east Ukraine.

"We understand the fatality of an 'Iron Curtain' for us," Putin was quoted as saying. "We will not go down this path in any case and no one will build a wall around us. That is impossible!"

Russia's ties with the West are at their worst since the Cold War because of Ukraine, where more than 4,300 people have been killed since violence erupted in the east mid-April. As the West pressures Moscow over Ukraine, Putin accused Washington and Brussels of disregarding Russia's interests.