A top U.S. official said today that while Ukraine has made “tremendous” strides in its reforms after its independence, there are areas it needs to work on before it is granted a place among NATO member states.
“Ukraine is a critical partner on the frontline of Russian aggression. Russia occupies Crimea and fuels conflict in the Donbas in its attempt to change borders by force… Russia's aggression is not only a matter for Ukraine, it is a threat to Europe, to the United States and to the stability of the international order,” Laura K. Cooper spoke virtually today at the Democracy in Action: Zero Corruption Conference.
The U.S. has long understood that the projection of strength and unity among its NATO allies and partners are vital components to deter Russian aggression and coercion, she said.
In that vein, the U.S. is committed to ensuring that NATO's door remains open to aspirants such as Ukraine, when they are ready and able to meet the commitments and obligations of membership and to contribute to security in the Euro Atlantic area. “To that end, the United States will continue to work with and urge the government of Ukraine to implement the deep, comprehensive and timely reforms that are necessary to advance its Euro Atlantic aspirations in support of a secure, prosperous, democratic and free Ukraine,” Cooper said.
Ukraine has made tremendous strides in its reform efforts over the last 30 years of its independence, she said, citing some examples:
While the Government of Ukraine has made substantial progress, there are some areas that require further attention, she said, mentioning some:
"The United States is committed to assisting Ukraine with the implementation of these reforms, and we maintain a robust advisory effort to help modernize Ukraine's military in line with NATO principles and standards," Cooper said.
The Annual National Program under the NATO Ukraine Commission is an invaluable resource to take forward the reforms that are needed to advance Ukraine's NATO membership aspirations, Cooper added.
"I encourage Ukraine to make the best use of this dedicated forum, as well as the benefits of capacity building programs, through NATO's comprehensive assistance package, and more recently, through enhanced opportunities for partner status to promote greater interoperability through exercises and training," she said.
"I also want to underscore that the United States remains committed to continuing our political, economic and military cooperation with Ukraine in support of an even stronger and more enduring strategic partnership between our two great nations," she said.