Ukraine Considers NATO Bid, Russian Objections

Ukraine Considers NATO Bid, Russian Objections

January turned out to be an eventful month for Ukraine, as the country became embroiled in a heated debate about its prospects for joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. While NATO has its supporters and critics in Ukrainian society, partisan divisions in the Ukrainian government have made political dialogue between these groups especially difficult. Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko represents the fiercely pro-Western forces which push for the country's speedy admission to NATO. The national parliament, Verkhovna Rada, is dominated by the Party of Regions and the Communist Party, which advocate for strengthening Ukraine's economic and political ties with neighboring Russia.

NATO's Ally or Opponent?

Ukraine has a long history of cooperation with NATO. In 1994, it was the first former Soviet republic to join the organization's Partnership for Peace program, the goal of which is to combat security threats and maintain peace in NATO member countries. Ukraine's peacekeeping forces operated with NATO troops in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Afghanistan, and Iraq. In 2007, two Ukrainian ships also took part in NATO's anti-terrorist maritime operations in the Mediterranean Sea. Under NATO's guidance, Ukraine is carrying out a host of comprehensive reforms to downsize and increase the mobility of its military forces, enhance civil society's control over defense and security structures, and safely destroy surplus land mines and munitions.

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