Ukraine will renew efforts to become a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), planning to do so by 2020 after a series of reforms, says President Petro Poroshenko.

In a visit by Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg to embattled Ukraine, the two leaders took the opportunity to address Ukrainian security threats, with Stoltenberg using the opportunity to call for Russia to withdraw “thousands of soldiers from Ukraine and stop supporting the militants with command-and-control and military equipment,” Reuters reports.

The 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea and their continued support for fighters in eastern Ukraine have brought the issue of NATO membership back to the forefront. Thousands of Ukrainian soldiers and civilians have been killed since the Russian-backed intervention in the east.

First proposed in 2008, Ukrainian membership in NATO initially saw little enthusiasm from pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovich or the Ukrainian people, officially discontinuing their bid for membership in 2010. However, with the beginning of hostilities with the Russians, support for the initiative has shot up to 69 percent, according to a poll conducted last month by the Democratic Initiatives Foundation.