Where is Ukraine? Countries bordering Ukraine, why Ukraine isn't in NATO, Ukraine on map - and where Russia is

As Ukraine seeks international aid amid Russia’s invasion, here’s where Ukraine is in relation to Russia, which countries border Ukraine and why it isn’t a NATO member

Russia-Ukraine: Where is Ukraine? What countries border Ukraine - and why Ukraine isn't in NATO (Image credit: Getty Images via Canva Pro)
Russia-Ukraine: Where is Ukraine? What countries border Ukraine - and why Ukraine isn't in NATO (Image credit: Getty Images via Canva Pro)

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, declared a “brutal act of war” by NATO Secretary General Jen Stoltenberg last week, has sent shockwaves around the world in attacking the country by air, land and sea.

The latest sanctions on Russia have seen the country cut off from the SWIFT international messaging system and further sanctions on Russian politicians, including President Vladimir Putin and on the country’s ally, Belarus.

But as Western allies continue to brandish further sanctions on Russia, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has warned of a new Iron Curtain forming in Europe.

A map of Europe shows where Ukraine is in relation to Russia, and which seven countries it shares its borders with.

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Here’s where Ukraine is in relation to where Russia is, the countries bordering Ukraine and why the country isn’t in NATO.

Where is Ukraine?

Ukraine is located in eastern Europe and shares its eastern border with Russia – the largest country in the world – and borders the Black Sea and Sea of Azov in the south.

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Due to its location next to Russia, the country previously formed part of the Soviet Union and was one of its founding members when the USSR was established in 1922.

Ukraine did not gain its independence from the Soviet Union, on the eastern, communist side of the Iron Curtain divide, until the dissolution of the USSR in 1991.

So far, military attacks on Thursday February 24 have taken place in a number of Ukraine’s major cities, with Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odessa hit by missiles and shelling on Thursday, as well as in the annexed peninsula of Crimea.

And as of Thursday evening, Russian troops have reportedly seized the infamous Chernobyl nuclear site, located approximately 80 miles north of Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, after Ukrainian forces lost control of the site.

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What countries border Ukraine?

Ukraine is bordered by Belarus to the north, Poland to its north west, Slovakia on its western side, and Hungary and Moldova to the south west.

It is flanked by Russia on its east and north east border, with the south eastern region of Donbas, including the areas of Donetsk and Luhansk recognised as independent republics by Russia on Monday (February 21), facing the initial wave of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine this week.

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Why is Ukraine not in NATO?

While Ukraine is seeking to become a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation of Western allies, particularly to help it contend with the great military threat presented by Russia, it has not yet been admitted into the military and security coalition of countries.

Countries must go through a lengthy process of proving their security and military policies as part of NATO’s membership action plan, which is open to European states which align themselves with NATO’s mission and are believed to advance it.

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Ukraine is an “enhanced opportunity partner” of NATO, however, which entitles it to share the same status as non-member countries like Sweden, Australia, Finland and Georgia.

This means that while Ukraine will not be able to receive the same military commitments as NATO members, it is given a unique position for “dialogue and cooperation” with the organisation.

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