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Ukrainian President Says NATO Must Expand


Ukraine's leader says the country's sovereignty could be at risk if it does not become part of NATO.

President Victor Yushchenko tells Saturday's edition of The Times newspaper of London that Russia's military incursion into Georgia has put the peace and stability of Europe "under threat."

He says an eastward expansion of NATO is the only way to maintain regional stability and that NATO membership is vital to his country's security.

Mr. Yushchenko says Ukraine cannot afford to respond to Russia's actions with ambivalence, calling on his country to increase military funding.

Russian President Dmitri Medvedev has warned Ukraine and Georgia against seeking NATO membership.

Last week, the Ukrainian president called for talks with Russia on the Black Sea Fleet's use of a Ukrainian port. He expressed concern that Russia's use of Sevastopol could inadvertently drag Ukraine into Russia's conflict with Georgia.

The Ukrainian leader signed an order last week requiring Russia to seek Ukraine's permission to move warships to and from the port. Moscow rejected the decree, describing it as "anti-Russian."

Russia has an agreement to use the Ukrainian port until 2017, but Ukrainian officials say they want the Russian fleet to leave when the lease expires.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.