The presidents of nine NATO countries from Central and Eastern Europe issued a joint statement Sunday supporting Ukraine's bid for membership of the defense alliance as they called for increased military aid to Kyiv.
The presidents of the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Slovakia and Romania expressed their firm support for "the decision of the 2008 Bucharest NATO Summit regarding the future membership of Ukraine in the Alliance."
“We support Ukraine in its defence against Russia's invasion, demand Russia to immediately withdraw from all the occupied territories and encourage all Allies to substantially increase their military aid to Ukraine,” the statement added.
The statement noted that the leaders of these countries — which account for nearly a third of NATO's members — “visited Kyiv during the war and witnessed with their own eyes the effects of Russian aggression.”
“We reiterate our support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. We do not recognize and will never recognize Russian attempts to annex any Ukrainian territory,” the statement said.
The statement also called on “all those who commit crimes of aggression” to be brought to justice.
Some context: A decision about Ukraine’s application for accelerated NATO membership must be agreed upon by all 30 members of the alliance, Jens Stoltenberg, NATO secretary general, said Sunday.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced Friday that Ukraine was applying “under an accelerated procedure” to become a NATO member.