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Why aren't NATO troops inside of Ukraine?

Ukraine is a cooperating partner of NATO but not a member

ATLANTA — As Russia’s attack on Ukraine intensifies, an 11Alive viewer wonders if NATO could have done more to prevent the invasion.

The images coming from thousands of miles away are heartbreaking. While the North Atlantic Treaty Organization has condemned Russia’s invasion and has called on an end to the assault, NATO troops are staying out of Ukraine.

An 11Alive viewer asks, “why couldn’t NATO bring Ukraine in under an emergency declaration to deter Russia from attacking?”

NATO involves 30 countries, including the United States, that have all signed a pact to protect one another.

“It basically says that an attack against any one country is an attack against all countries that are within NATO,” said Dr. Jeffrey Berejikian of the University of Georgia’s School of Public and International Affairs.

According to NATO, while Ukraine is a cooperative partner country, it is not a member of NATO and therefore not a part of the security guarantee.

Berejikian said the NATO treaty is very specific.

“One of the countries within NATO has to be attacked in some way, and then they come to the collective defense of that country,” said Berejikian. “Ukraine is a kind of security partner. It's a political ally, but it's not in NATO.”

While Russia’s actions could be taken as a threat by the members of NATO, Berejikian said sending NATO troops into a country that’s not a part of NATO could be confusing to the rest of the world.

“It kind of makes sense to restrict in a very clear way, where NATO countries will fight and where they will not,” said Berejikian. “What you always want to have is a clear, bright red line."

NATO is helping coordinate Ukraine’s requests for assistance. NATO countries are free to send equipment to Ukraine and help any refugees fleeing that country.


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