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Poroshenko Says He Plans To Hold Referendum On Ukraine Joining NATO

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko told German media that he is planning a referendum on whether Ukraine should join NATO now that polls show 54 percent of Ukrainians favor such a move.

"Four years ago, only 16 percent favored Ukraine's entry into NATO. Now, it's 54 percent," Poroshenko told Germany's Funke Mediengruppe newspaper chain in an interview published on February 2.

"As president, I am guided by the views of my people, and I will hold a referendum on the issue of NATO membership."

He vowed to "do all I can to achieve membership in the transatlantic alliance" if people vote for that. He said Ukraine's military will be up to NATO standards by 2020.

NATO and Ukraine have had a close relationship since the early 1990s, and the alliance's website says their ties are one of the "most substantial" of NATO's partnerships.

However, any move by NATO to admit Ukraine would spark tensions with Russia.

Poroshenko also told the newspaper that Ukraine is making progress on joining the European Union by reducing its budget deficit and curbing corruption.

"Europe should realize that it would be more secure, reliable, and happier with Ukraine," he said.

Based on reporting by Reuters and TASS