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Ukraine Still Needs to Implement Reforms to Meet NATO Criteria, Pentagon Official Says

© AP Photo / Olivier MatthysFlags of Alliance members flap in the wind outside NATO headquarters in Brussels, Friday, Feb. 28, 2020
Flags of Alliance members flap in the wind outside NATO headquarters in Brussels, Friday, Feb. 28, 2020 - Sputnik International, 1920, 07.06.2021
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - Ukraine still needs to implement a series of reforms to ensure the interoperability of its armed forces with those of NATO and meet the alliance's membership requirements, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence Laura Cooper said on Monday.

“In the case of Ukraine, we still do have a number of reforms that are necessary to ensure that the Ukrainian armed forces would in fact be ready and NATO interoperable. So our focus is on that reform agenda and making sure that Ukraine would be ready to join NATO,” Cooper said in a virtual address to the Democracy in Action: Zero Corruption Conference held in Ukraine.

Cooper did not give a direct answer to the question of whether Ukraine stands a chance at all to join NATO “in the next decade or so.”

“The United States absolutely stands by the 2008 Bucharest Declaration, which says that one day Ukraine will be a member of NATO. And we are committed to working with Ukraine so that it can progress the reforms that would be required for NATO membership,” Cooper, who is responsible for Russian, Ukrainian and Eurasian affairs in the office of the Under Secretary of Defence for Policy, said.

However, Cooper brushed aside speculations there is hesitation within NATO to accept Ukraine stemming from a fear from Russia.

“Russia absolutely does not have a veto,” Cooper said.

Moreover, Russia should be denied veto power over sovereign choices of nations as to which alliance and treaties they want to sign up to, she added.

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