MOSCOW, March 6 -- Moscow categorically ruled out any possibility of Ukraine joining NATO, a senior Russian diplomat said Thursday.
"This will happen in no circumstances. It is impossible," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Vasily Nebenzya told reporters.
He stressed that both Russia and NATO understood very well the consequences of Ukraine becoming a member of the Euro-Atlantic defence alliance.
"I can imagine Ukraine's participation in NATO neither now, nor in the future," he said.
On Wednesday, Ukrainian lawmakers introduced a bill that would cancel the country's nonaligned status and allow it to join military alliances. The bill could be voted on next week.
Amid a political crisis in Ukraine, NATO warned earlier this week it was cutting back cooperation with Russia to try to pressure it into backing down on Ukraine.
NATO announced Wednesday it had suspended planning for the first NATO-Russia joint naval mission to escort shipments of Syria's chemical weapons.