KIEV, March 18 (Reuters) - Ukraine's new pro-Western leadership is not seeking membership of NATO, interim Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk said on Tuesday in an appeal intended to offer reassurances to the country's large number of Russian-speakers.
"The question of joining NATO is not on the agenda," Yatseniuk said in a televised appeal delivered in Russian.
Russia, now in control of Ukraine's Crimea region dominated by ethnic Russians, has accused the new leadership in Kiev of pursuing anti-Russian policies and says it reserves the right to defend Russian speakers in eastern and southern regions.
Yatseniuk also said authorities were determined to disarm all groups holding weapons in the country, regardless of their aims, after armed clashes in Kiev earlier this year and recent disturbances in eastern cities. (Reporting by Pavel Polityuk; Writing by Ron Popeski)