NATO Chief Reassures Ukrainians

KIEV Ч NATO's secretary general, visiting Ukraine to bolster thin public support for joining the alliance, said Monday that membership would in no way oblige the country to host foreign bases or send soldiers off to war.

NATO's Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and President Viktor Yushchenko also said Ukrainian membership would not harm the interests of Russia. De Hoop Scheffer visited Kiev two months after a NATO summit decided that Ukraine and Georgia could join, though without a firm timetable for accession.

De Hoop Scheffer said it was important to spell out what Euro-Atlantic integration meant and to dispel "myths" over NATO membership. "It does not mean NATO bases on Ukrainian soil. Е It does not mean any Ukrainian soldier will be forced to take part in NATO's operations or missions. That's a myth, a big myth and let me debunk that myth in your presence today," he said.