KYIV, March 10 - President Petro Poroshenko has reiterated on Saturday that Ukraine is seeking a Membership Action Plan (MAP), a formal step toward joining NATO, RFE/RL reported.
Poroshenko, in a post on Facebook, said a MAP was Ukraine's "next ambition" on the path toward eventual membership in the 29-country Western alliance.
"This is what my letter to Jens Stoltenberg on February 2018 was about, where, with reference to Article 10 of the North Atlantic Treaty, I officially [set out] Ukraine's aspirations to become a member of the Alliance," Poroshenko wrote.
A Membership Action Plan is a multistage process of political dialogue and military reform to bring a country in line with NATO standards and to eventual membership. The process can take several years.
Poroshenko's comments came after NATO updated its website to include Ukraine alongside three other countries -- Bosnia-Herzegovina, Georgia, and Macedonia -- that have declared their aspirations to NATO membership.
“Countries that have declared an interest in joining the Alliance are initially invited to engage in an Intensified Dialogue with NATO about their membership aspirations and related reforms,” the NATO website said.
The next step toward possible membership is a MAP. But a NATO official told RFE/RL that the alliance has not changed its position on Ukraine.
"NATO's policy remains the same," the official said. "There has been a change in Ukraine's policy, which the website reflects."
Under former President Viktor Yanukovych, Kyiv said it was not interested in joining NATO. But Kyiv has sought NATO membership since the 2014 antigovernment Maidan protests that toppled Moscow-friendly Yanukovych and ushered in a pro-Western government.
Ukraine's Verkhovna Rada on June 8, 2017, passed a law making NATO integration a foreign policy priority.
In July 2017, Poroshenko announced that he would seek the opening of negotiations on a MAP with NATO.
Ukraine is currently embroiled in a war with Russia-backed separatists in part of its eastern regions that has killed more than 10,300 people and displaced hundreds of thousands since April 2014. (rfe/ez)