NATO head Stoltenberg visits Ukraine

NATO head Stoltenberg visits Ukraine

Today, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg will be in Kiev to celebrate 20 years since Ukraine established formal relations with the

Photo: AP/Mykola Lazarenko

Photo: AP/Mykola Lazarenko

Today, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg will be in Kiev to celebrate 20 years since Ukraine established formal relations with the alliance.

Ukraine has slowly drifted towards the West since becoming independent in 1991. In 2008, Kiev applied for full-fledged NATO membership, sparking a backlash from Russia—which took a dim view on another, much larger NATO neighbour.

Although Ukraine halted its application process in 2010, Russian concern over Kiev drifting westward was part of its motivation for annexing Crimea in 2014 and supporting insurgents in Eastern Ukraine, especially after the 2014 ousting of pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych.

But Russia’s moves backfired and drove Ukraine closer to the West. In 2014, Ukraine restarted its membership application, and last February President Poroshenko pledged a referendum on NATO admittance, which polls show has majority support.

Stoltenberg will discuss the state of Ukraine’s application with parliament chair Andriy Parubiy today. A fruitful meeting could accelerate Ukraine’s admittance process, bringing the former Soviet state deeper into the Western fold.