NATO Countries 2023

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What is NATO?

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, alternately known as NATO, is a military alliance between countries in North America and Europe. NATO was formed in the aftermath of World War II to preserve peace in Europe and protect democratic nations from potential attacks by the Soviet Union (which exists today as the Russian Federation). NATO’s website states that NATO's founding treaty "commits the Allies to democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law, as well as to peaceful resolution of disputes. Importantly, the treaty sets out the idea of collective defense, meaning that an attack against one Ally is considered an attack against all Allies." As of February 2022, NATO has 30 members in total.

Current NATO Countries and the Years They Joined:

Note: * indicates a founding member

Country Joined Country Joined
Albania 2009 Lithuania 2004
Belgium 1949* Luxembourg 1949*
Bulgaria 2004 Montenegro 2017
Canada 1949* Netherlands 1949*
Croatia 2009 North Macedonia 2020
Czech Republic 1999 Norway 1949*
Denmark 1949* Poland 1999
Estonia 2004 Portugal 1949*
France 1949* Romania 2004
Germany 1955 Slovakia 2004
Greece 1952 Slovenia 2004
Hungary 1999 Spain 1982
Iceland 1949* Turkey 1952
Italy 1949* United Kingdom 1949*
Latvia 2004 United States 1949*

The 12 founding member countries of NATO are Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and the United States. NATO also has a list of aspiring members, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Macedonia, and Ukraine, which may one day become full NATO members.

Is Ukraine part of NATO?

Not yet, but it is in the process of joining. Ukraine joined NATO's Partnership for Peace program in 1994 and applied to join the NATO Membership Action Plan (MAP) in 2008. The 2010 presidential election of Viktor Yanukovych, who wanted to keep the country non-aligned, delayed Ukraine's progress toward U.N. membership. However, after two important events in 2014—Russia's invasion of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula and a national election—Ukraine's new government renewed and prioritized efforts to join NATO. According to a 2017 poll, 69% of Ukrainians support joining NATO. Ukraine became a NATO aspiring member in 2018. On February 7, 2019, the Ukrainian parliament voted to change its constitution to affirm its intention to join NATO and the European Union.

Is Russia part of NATO?

No, Russia is not part of NATO. In fact, the Russian government's perceived aggressiveness is the main issue NATO was founded to counteract. Despite this, Russia has historically at least given the appearance of cooperation with NATO. Russia and NATO established the North Atlantic Cooperation Council in 1991, and Russia joined the Partnership for Peace program in 1994. The establishment of the Russia-NATO Council to address security issues and collaborate on joint projects followed in 2002.

NATO suspended cooperation with Russia in 2014 following Russia's invasion of Crimea, not including the NATO-Russia Council. Russia and NATO have held several meetings since 2017, and NATO states that an improvement in their relationship with Russia is dependent on Russia's compliance with international law and their commitments. In October 2021, NATO expelled eight Russians from its Brussels, Belgium headquarters amid concerns that they were undeclared intelligence agents. Russia responded by suspending relations with NATO.

Future NATO members

There currently exist five countries that are not yet NATO members, but are have formally informed NATO that they wish to be.

The process of membership takes time, requiring applicants to prove they can meet certain political, economic, and military criteria (and enacting reforms if they cannot) and are willing to accede to the North Atlantic Treaty, and further requiring the governments of every existing NATO member to formally approve the application.

Despite the complexity and stringent conditions of admission into NATO, both Finland and Sweden are on the verge of becoming full members and will likely complete the process by the end of 2023 at the latest. While both countries joined the Partnership for Peace program (see below) in 1994, both had also stopped short of actually joining NATO—however, Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 convinced both countries that joining NATO would be in the best interest of national security.

The Partnership for Peace program

Twenty countries, including those actively pursuing MATO membership, are members of NATO's Partnership for Peace program, which is designed to build trust between the organization and states in Europe and the former Soviet Union. Perhaps ironically, Russia itself is a member of the Partnership for Peace program, though its invasions of Georgia (2008), Ukraine's Crimean peninsula (2014), and the Ukrainian mainland (2022) call the country's commitment to peace into question.

Members of NATO's Partnerships for Peace program:

Armenia - 1994 Ireland - 1999 Sweden - 1994
Austria - 1995 Kazakhstan - 1994 Switzerland - 1994
Azerbaijan - 1994 Kyrgyzstan - 1994 Tajikistan - 2002
Belarus - 1995 Malta - 2008 Turkmenistan - 1994
Bosnia and Herzegovnia - 2006 Moldova - 1994 Ukraine - 1994
Finland - 1994 Russia - 1994 Uzbekistan - 1994
Georgia - 1994 Serbia - 2006

Members of the Partnership for Peace program include former republics of the Soviet Union: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan, as well as Yugoslavia's former republics Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia. European Union members of the program include Austria, Finland, Ireland, Malta, and Sweden. Finally, the European Free Trade Association member Switzerland is also part of the Partnership for Peace program.

NATO Countries 2023

NATO Countries 2023