KIEV, Ukraine, Sept. 22 (UPI) -- Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko is calling for his government to reverse a decision by the previous government that established a non-alliance policy with NATO.
"No one else but Russia with its aggressive actions convincingly proved the usefulness of the organization, the need for its reinforcement and further expansion. There's no alternative," Interfax quoted Poroshenko as saying at meeting of the country's National Defense and Security Council.
Ukraine has flirted with the idea of joining NATO since relations began in 1994. Politically, this would further open the country to Western influence, distancing itself from its neighbor Russia. The country applied for the NATO Membership Action Plan in 2008, however the plans were shelved by pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych in 2010. Yanukovych was removed from office in February 2014.
Poroshenko says the public is on his side in favor of a NATO membership, claiming 60 percent of Ukrainians prefer a NATO membership.
While Ukraine is still not a member state, the country is in the process of strengthening its ties with the alliance.
NATO officials signed an agreement in Kiev to continue their support for Ukrainian armed forces on Tuesday, part of an effort to assist the country locked in civil war with pro-Russian separatists. The conflict has claimed more than 8,000 lives since fighting began in April 2014.
During NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg's two-day visit to Ukraine, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk echoed President Poroshenko's sentiments, saying his government will seek full membership.
The documents signed provide further technical support for Ukraine's military, and designed to bolster the defense industry in the region.
"NATO can rely on Ukraine, and Ukraine can rely on NATO," Stoltenberg said.
Membership with NATO provides a collective system of defense for member states. Currently, 28 countries are full members of the alliance, with an additional 22 countries participating in their Partnership for Peace program, a post-Cold War initiative that aims to establish trust throughout the European continent.