Ukraine's president said the country needs to amend its constitution to make NATO membership its long-term goal.
President Petro Poroshenko said yesterday that Ukrainians are finally convinced of the benefits of the alliance with NATO and said the Ukrainian army will meet the criteria for NATO membership by 2020. Ukraine abruptly changed its pro-Russian stance following the overthrow of the pro-Kremlin government in 2014 and Russia's annexation of Crimea a month later. One of the arguments that Russia used to justify the annexation was fears that Ukraine would invite NATO troops to Crimea's strategic Black Sea port of Sevastopol.
Following Poroshenko's speech, the Ukrainian parliament voted to appeal to the Constitutional Court to review the amendments.
Earlier this month, Ukraine launched joint military exercises with the United States and a string of other NATO countries. The annual Rapid Trident military exercises, took place in the western Ukrainian village of Starychi until Sept. 15, involved some 2,200 soldiers from 14 countries. Hundreds of U.S. soldiers have been training Ukrainian soldiers since 2015 to support them in their fight against Russian-backed rebels in the country's war-torn east. The drills started a week before Russia held its biggest military exercises since the Cold War, in the east of the country and with the participation of China and Mongolia.