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"If Ukraine's admission to NATO is accelerated, Russia could raise the question of which country the Crimea should be a part of," Alexei Ostrovsky, the head of the State Duma committee on CIS affairs, said in a radio interview.

"The Russian Federation has legal grounds to revise agreements signed under Khrushchev."

Former Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, who grew up in Ukraine, made the Crimean Peninsula - a territory of 26,100 sq km washed by the Black and Azov seas - part of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1954. The peninsula had formerly been a part of the Russian Soviet Socialist Republic.

The Crimea, now an autonomous region within Ukraine, is a predominantly Russian-speaking territory. Since the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union, the Crimea has unsuccessfully sought independence from Ukraine. A 1994 referendum in the Crimea supported demands for a broader autonomy and closer links with Russia.

The Russian Black Sea Fleet retains a Soviet-era base in Sevastopol in the Crimea. Disputes between Russia and Ukraine over the lease of the base are frequent.

However, Ostrovsky admitted that Ukraine was unlikely to join NATO any time soon, saying that the Ukrainian president, prime minister and parliamentary speaker were the only people in the country seeking membership of the Western military alliance. His comments referred to recent opinion polls that have indicated that about 70% of the population is opposed to joining NATO.

To the diarist:  does anyone really think Ukraine will join NATO?  Not a rhetorical question.  What are the actual chances of that happening?

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Wed Apr 9th, 2008 at 05:07:11 PM EST

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