NATO Grants Ukraine Status Of 'Aspirant Country'

BRUSSELS, Belgium -- NATO has granted Ukraine the status of an aspirant country to eventual membership in the 29-nation Western alliance. Georgia, Macedonia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina enjoy similar status.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (L) and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels.

"NATO's door remains open to any European country in a position to undertake the commitments and obligations of membership, and contribute to security in the Euro-Atlantic area," the alliance said in a March 9 statement.

"Currently, four partner countries have declared their aspirations to NATO membership: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and Ukraine," reads the short statement on NATO's website.

Countries that have officially stated an interest in joining NATO are initially invited to engage in an intensified dialogue with NATO about their membership aspirations and necessary reforms.

A next step toward possible membership is participation in the Membership Action Plan (MAP), which outlines obligations and commitments of possible future membership. 

Macedonia and Bosnia-Herzegovina are currently the only aspirant countries with a MAP.

On June 8, 2017, Ukraine's Verkhovna Rada passed a law making NATO integration a foreign policy priority.

In July 2017, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko announced that he would seek the opening of negotiations on a MAP with NATO.

Ukraine is currently embroiled in a war with Russia-backed separatists in part of its eastern regions that has killed more than 11,000 people and displaced hundreds of thousands since April 2014.

The fighting began after Russia fomented unrest in eastern Ukraine following the ouster of Moscow-friendly President Viktor Yanukovych.

Source: Radio Free Europe