Ukraine Leader Says Will Hold Referendum on Joining NATO

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said he wants to hold a referendum on his conflict-torn country joining NATO, in comments to a German newspaper published Thursday.

Ukraine Leader Says Will Hold Referendum on Joining NATO

He said 54 percent of Ukrainians now favored membership, up from 16 percent four years ago, speaking with the Berliner Morgenpost and other regional daily newspapers.

"As president, I have to follow the will of the people and will organize a referendum on the question of NATO accession," he said, without giving a timeline.

"And if Ukrainians vote for it, I will do everything for a membership in the Atlantic alliance," he added, reiterating Kiev's previously stated wish to join NATO, AFP reported.

Renewed fighting between Ukrainian forces and rebels claimed at least 13 lives early this week.

The conflict has killed nearly 10,000 people since 2014 -- more than half of them civilians -- and plunged Moscow's relations with the West to a post-Cold War low.

The Kremlin denies backing the insurgents and only admits that Russian "volunteers" and off-duty soldiers have entered the war zone of their own free will.

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