Why is Ukraine not in NATO? Key reason explained

Ukraine: Meyer reveals West's 'main weapon' against Russia

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Ukraine declared itself independent of the Soviet Union in 1991, and ever since has faced tensions with neighbouring Russia. Now the tensions have reached fever pitch after Vladimir Putin launched a merciless invasion, forcing thousands to flee their homes. Some 1.5 million Ukrainian refugees have now left the country, as those escaping into central European pleaded for Western nations to take tougher steps against Russia.

Dozens of nations have launched strict sanctions against Russia for the attacks – some the Kremlin has condemned, saying the West was behaving like a bandit by cutting economic relations.

The Russian President claims his actions are a result of Ukraine’s bid to become a member of NATO.

But Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has urged NATO to step in and help his stricken nation, condemning the West for failing to implement a no-fly zone.

In a furious speech, he said: “All the people who will die starting from this day will also die because of you. Because of your weakness, because of your disunity.”

Who can join NATO?

NATO says membership is open to “any other European state in a position to further the principles” of its treaty and will “contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area”.

Countries who wish to join must follow a membership action plan that involves outlining their nation’s security and political policies.

The membership action plan helps “aspiring members prepare for membership and meet key requirements by providing practical advice and targeted assistance”.

Why is Ukraine not in NATO?

Ukraine is one of NATO’s “enhanced opportunity partners”, but isn’t an official member. However, the country is making a bid to join the military alliance – something Mr Putin is vehemently against.

Many have suggested NATO should speed up its membership bid as the country comes under fire from the indiscriminate bombing campaign.

But “unresolved external territorial disputes” mean Ukraine is unlikely to be granted membership anytime soon.

Professor Alastair Kocho-Williams, Clarkson University, told the i that Nato membership would “significantly increase Ukraine’s international military backing, allowing for NATO military action within Ukraine and alongside members of its military”.

In December last year, Mr Putin said Russia will seek “reliable and long-term security guarantees” from the US and its allies “that would exclude any further Nato moves eastward and the deployment of weapons systems that threaten us in close vicinity to Russian territory.”

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