MOSCOW, October 22 (RIA Novosti) – Ukraine and Georgia will not accede to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) next year, its top official said Tuesday, dismissing speculation that two of Russia’s most strategically important neighbors might be joining.
Ukraine has decided to abandon its long-standing bid to join NATO, Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told journalists in Brussels on the eve of a Russia-NATO council meeting. The Georgian government is still interested in closer cooperation with the alliance, but will not succeed in becoming a member in 2014, he said.
Both countries still have partnership action plans with NATO and will continue to work together, Rasmussen added.
Ukraine and Georgia have been lobbying to become NATO members for years, enjoying full support for their bids from the US, but alliance members rejected a proposal to offer them membership at a NATO summit in Bucharest in 2008.
Russia has vociferously opposed any further eastward expansion by NATO, particularly by former Soviet republics on its borders. In 2008, just a month after Georgia and Russia fought a brief war over the breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia, Russia’s then-President Dmitry Medvedev said Moscow would not allow Georgian membership of NATO.
“Russia will not joke around if this happens. Everyone should think about this,” he said at that time.
Rasmussen also noted that the Western alliance does not plan to create any new formal coalitions with the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a loose Eurasian military alliance headquartered in Russia.
NATO, he said, is satisfied with its current cooperation with the Eurasian military alliance between Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, but stressed that the organizations needed to move from words to action.
NATO currently has 28 member states, largely based in North America and Western Europe. Article Five of NATO’s Washington treaty commits member states to regard an attack on a member state as an attack on the alliance as a whole.