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NATO summit in Bucharest

At this week's NATO summit in Bucharest, Albania and Croatia received membership invitations, while Georgia and Ukraine were not granted their coveted Membership Action Plans (MAP), a key step before full membership. But Georgian and Ukrainian presidents welcomed NATO's firm commitment that both countries would eventually become full members.

Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg told RFE/RL in an interview that the former Communist countries of "new Europe" - most notaby Poland - were instrumental in getting the reluctant French and Germans to agree to a firm commitment for eventual Georgian and Ukrainian membership.

The NATO countries also endorsed a U.S.-backed missile-defense system in Europe which Moscow staunchly opposes.

As for the Western alliance's troubled mission in Afghanistan, France agreed at the summit to send a battalion to Afghanistan to relieve overstretched U.S. and Canadian forces. On the other hand, Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to allow for the transport of nonlethal military equipment across its territory to Afghanistan.