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9 European nations support Ukraine’s bid to join NATO in joint statement

The document was signed by presidents of Romania, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland and Slovakia.

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Kiev: Nine countries of Central and Eastern Europe issued a joint statement on Sunday endorsing Ukraine for NATO membership.

“We Presidents of Central and Eastern Europe… firmly stand behind the 2008 Bucharest NATO Summit decision concerning Ukraine’s future membership,” the statement read.

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The document was signed by presidents of Romania, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland and Slovakia.

They called on Russia to “immediately withdraw from all the occupied territories” and reiterated their refusal to recognize the legitimacy of Russian accession of territories to the east of Ukraine.

On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed accession agreements with the leaders of the Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics and the Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions. That same day, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced that Ukraine was applying for fast-track membership to NATO.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, commenting on Zelenskyy’s statement, reiterated the alliance’s position on the right of each country to determine its own path and on NATO’s “open door” policy, but emphasized that the alliance would concentrate its efforts on assisting Ukraine to defend itself.

White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said in earlier remarks that Ukraine’s bid to join NATO should be addressed at another time.

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