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NATO denies plans to offer "associate partnership" status to Ukraine, Georgia

Media reported earlier that Ukraine and Georgia would be offered a newly invented status of "associate partners" to NATO

WASHINGTON, May 27. /TASS/.NATO will not offer a new "associate partnership" status to Ukraine and Georgia at the summit in Warsaw in July, an Alliance official told TASS on Friday commenting on recent media reports.

Without new status but with possible assistance

Brussels’ New Europe newspaper earlier reported that Ukraine and Georgia would be offered a newly invented status of "associate partners" to NATO at the North Atlantic Alliance’s summit in Warsaw on July 8-9.

"That story is totally inaccurate. Georgia has the Substantial NATO-Georgia Package, which is being implemented. Ukraine has various programs of support and assistance from NATO, including five Trust Funds, and may receive additional assistance at the Warsaw Summit (when there will be a summit-level meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission) . No new status has been proposed by allies or by Georgia and Ukraine," the Alliance official said.

Russia on agenda: forecasts

Co-director of the Center on 21st Century Security and Intelligence at the Brookings Institution Michael O’Hanlon told TASS that at the NATO summit in Warsaw, "the big issues will clearly be terrorism and ISIS (Islamic State terrorist organization banned in Russia), (Russian President Vladimir) Putin and Russia and Ukraine, and perhaps Afghanistan."

"Personally I expect that NATO will not want to upset the gradual movement towards a less tense relationship with Russia. So any US/NATO policy changes towards Russia, beyond what is already contained in (US President Barack) Obama’s European assurance initiative, will likely be modest - unless circumstances deteriorate in the meantime. Hopefully Minsk-2 will take further root and hopefully Russian planes will stop buzzing NATO ships," O’Hanlon said.

Former US Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs PJ Crowley told TASS that Washington sees Moscow as a strategic competitor. "Russia is not a strategic partner. It is a strategic competitor, which leaves open the possibility for narrow cooperation, but the trajectory of the relationship is declining and I do not anticipate that changing until Moscow shows greater flexibility regarding Ukraine and Syria," Crowley said.

"Thus, I would expect the Alliance to continue to look for opportunities for strategic reassurance, not towards Moscow but towards its most eastern members who remain concerned about Russia's posture. I do expect there will continue to be dialogue, but it will remain constrained," he noted.

Will Ukraine get assistance?

Talking about the situation in and around Ukraine, Crowley said: "The West will continue to be supportive of Ukraine, but there are limits. Most European countries are focused on the survival of the EU. That restricts how much attention and resource they can provide to Kiev. The Ukrainian government has to improve its performance. That requires more than just a change at the top."

O’Hanlon also noted that NATO certainly "has an interest in a more stable and prosperous Ukraine." "So yes, trying to incentivize Kiev to make reforms is a worthy aspiration. But whether Kiev will make any policy reforms worthy of additional support by that point is an open question," the expert concluded.