Ukrainian membership of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is not on the table for Merkel, according to one German official, who said that a referendum wouldn't bring Ukraine closer to NATO since decisions on membership are made by Alliance countries and not voters. Any bid to join NATO can only end badly, a second official said. Both asked not to be named discussing German government strategy.
It's a stance that Merkel and Vladimir Putin can agree on, even as she vents frustration at her inability to sway the Russian president to resolve the crisis.
"NATO membership for Ukraine isn't on the agenda at this point," Michael Grosse-Broemer, the parliamentary whip for Merkel's Christian Democratic bloc, said in an interview in Berlin yesterday.
German resistance to Ukraine's membership in the 28-nation military alliance, echoed by France, is a warning to Poroshenko not to aggravate the conflict with pro-Kremlin separatists that has claimed more than 4,300 lives in almost eight months.
For Putin, the alliance once arrayed against the Soviet Union remains an adversary. Ukrainian membership in NATO would be absolutely unacceptable, a Russian government official said yesterday, asking not to be named discussing diplomatic policy. Any referendum that backed NATO membership in Ukraine would lead to further escalation which Russia wouldn't tolerate, the offical said.
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