KIEV, Feb. 2 (Xinhua) -- Ukraine is considering a possibility to hold a referendum on whether to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), local media cited Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko as saying.

According to Poroshenko, the number of Ukrainians supporting the accession to the military alliance has increased more than threefold to 54 percent over the past four years.

Local experts believe the prospect for Ukraine to gain NATO membership in the near future is slim, as the country does not meet political, military, legal and economic criteria for joining the alliance.

Ukraine and NATO established partnership in 1991, shortly after Kiev gained its independence from the former Soviet Union. Ukraine closely cooperates with the alliance and actively participates in NATO's Partnership for Peace Program.

Shortly after the civil war broke out in eastern Ukraine in April 2014, the Ukrainian parliament has abandoned the country's non-aligned status, paving the way for it to join military blocs.