NATO vs Russia: What countries are a member of N.A.T.O and what does it stand for - why Russia is against Ukraine joining NATO

As the conflict in Ukraine escalates, this is what you need to know about NATO.

By Abi Whistance
Thursday, 24th February 2022, 12:22 pm

Russia has launched a ‘full scale invasion’ of Ukraine today, with NATO releasing a statement saying that they "condemn in the strongest possible terms Russia’s horrifying attack on Ukraine."

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This invasion comes after Russian demands to block Ukraine joining NATO were rejected by the defence alliance, who stated any independent country is free to join.

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Commander of the UK contribution to the NATO enhanced Forward Presence mission in Estonia and Poland, Colonel Dai Bevan, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, and Polish base commander during a visit to Warszawska Brygada Pancerna military base near Warsaw, Poland, as tensions remain high over the build-up of Russian forces near the border with Ukraine. Photo: Daniel Leal/PA

But what is NATO and why doesn't Russia want Ukraine to join?

Below is everything you need to know about NATO.

What is NATO?

NATO's aim is to offer collective security to all of its members.

This means that if a member of NATO is threatened by an external country, the other countries in NATO will help defend them.

NATO intervention has previously been seen in Bosnia, Herzegovina, Kosovo and Libya.

What does NATO stand for?

NATO stands for the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and was established after World War Two.

The organisation started in 1947 when France and the United Kingdom signed the Treaty of Dunkirk to create an alliance in the event of a German or Soviet attack.

The treaty was then expanded to include more countries in the North Atlantic Treaty - this was signed in 1949.

Which countries are in NATO?

There are currently 30 member states of NATO, as follows:

United States

United Kingdom

Belgium

Canada

Denmark

France

Iceland

Italy

Luxembourg

The Netherlands

Norway

Portugal

Hungary

Czech Republic

Poland

Bulgaria

Estonia

Latvia

Lithuania

Romania

Slovenia

Albania

Croatia

Why does Russia want to stop Ukraine joining NATO?

No - Russia is against NATO and does not want Ukraine to join the alliance either.

Russia and NATO have had a historically complex relationship, and Russia does not want Ukraine joining NATO as it sees the organisation as a negative Western influence.

Russia also fears that if Ukraine joins NATO, Western-influenced countries will then be at its borders.

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