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9 NATO Members Urge Ukraine Support    10/02 11:16

   The heads of nine European NATO members on Sunday issued a joint statement 
backing a path to membership for Ukraine in the U.S.-led security alliance, and 
calling on all 30 NATO nations to ramp up military aid for Kyiv.

   PRAGUE (AP) -- The heads of nine European NATO members on Sunday issued a 
joint statement backing a path to membership for Ukraine in the U.S.-led 
security alliance, and calling on all 30 NATO nations to ramp up military aid 
for Kyiv.

   Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made a surprise move Friday to apply 
for fast-track NATO membership, in response to Russia's annexation of four 
regions of Ukraine.

   NATO membership needs approval from all 30 members and Ukraine is unlikely 
to join anytime soon. Being a country already at war complicates the request.

   The nine NATO countries in Central and Eastern Europe fearful that Russia 
could target them next if it isn't stopped in Ukraine urged a response to the 
annexation.

   The leaders of Czechia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, North Macedonia, 
Montenegro, Poland, Romania and Slovakia published a statement on their 
websites Sunday saying: "We support Ukraine in its defense against Russia's 
invasion, demand (that Russia) immediately withdraw from all the occupied 
territories and encourage all allies to substantially increase their military 
aid to Ukraine."

   It said the leaders "firmly stood behind the 2008 Bucharest NATO Summit 
decision concerning Ukraine's future membership." At the 2008 summit, NATO 
members welcomed Ukraine and Georgia's aspirations to join, but declined to 
provide a clear timeline for the two countries' possible ascension. Sunday's 
letter didn't mention a timeline, either.

   Asked Friday about Zelenskyy's application for accelerated NATO membership, 
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said the application 
process in Brussels "should be taken up at a different time."

   NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg was noncommittal when asked about 
Zelenskyy's appeal to join.

   Dmitry Medvedev, deputy head of Russia's Security Council chaired by Putin, 
derided the move, saying that Zelenskyy's request amounts to "begging NATO to 
accelerate the start of World War III."

   Spurred into action by security concerns over Russia's invasion, Finland and 
Sweden officially applied to join NATO in May using an accelerated procedure. 
Most member countries have already ratified their applications and the two 
Nordic nations are on track to join in record time.

 
 
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