MOSCOW, September 23. /TASS/. The self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic will pull out from the Minsk accords and start liberating Donbass if Kiev attempts to join NATO, DPR’s leader Alexander Zakharchenko said.
The statements of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Kiev’s negotiator Leonid Kuchma on the need for Ukraine to join the alliance are aimed at undermining the Minsk peace deal, Zakharchenko said.
"If Ukraine begins preparing a referendum on joining NATO or other procedures, then the DPR will immediately withdraw from the Minsk agreements and start clearing the whole territory of Donbas from Kiev’s occupation," Zakharchenko was quoted by the Donetsk news agency as saying.
"I’m sure that many other Ukrainian regions in this case will leave it," he stressed.
Poroshenko said at a joint news conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Monday that Ukraine needs to prepare for accession to NATO. He said the reforms that the country’s leadership has launched meet the alliance’s demands by 99%
"Is Ukraine ready to become a member now? The answer is no. We need to prepare for this. Is NATO ready for Ukraine to become a member of the alliance? No. But my country needs to prepare for this."
Poroshenko has repeatedly said that the issue on joining NATO will be put up for a referendum.
Stoltenberg said: "NATO can rely on Ukraine and Ukraine can rely on NATO. Our partnership is already very strong and today we took steps to strengthen our partnership even further.".