Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves on Monday lobbied for future NATO membership for Georgia and Ukraine, hinting the alliance shall resist pressure from Russia, according to Xinhua.

    "If a country like Ukraine or Georgia has moved toward democracy, openness, rule of law and they want to join NATO, then there is no reason why we should not trust them," Ilves told reporters at the NATO headquarters.

    "We should not give in to pressure and blackmail," he said, obviously referring to opposition from Moscow.

    He said the alliance has crossed many "red lines" in enlargement. The first red line was a unified Germany in NATO, followed by Poland the Baltic states, he said.

    Ilves said Georgia and Ukraine should be invited at April`s NATO summit to join NATO`s Membership Action Plan, the last step toward NATO membership.

    "I do hope the Bucharest summit will take into account the legitimate desire of democratic countries such as Georgia and Ukraine. What they will be offered I don`t know. But certainly it`s the hope of Estonia that the Membership Action Plan is something they be given an opportunity to join," he said.

    Russia has repeated its firm opposition to NATO`s enlargement, particularly into Moscow`s backyard -- most imminently Georgia and Ukraine, which are in Intensified Dialogue with NATO.

    Yulia Tymoshenko, Ukraine`s new pro-West prime minister, has recently submitted application for NATO`s Membership Action Plan.

    Albania, Croatia and Macedonia have been given hopes that they might be formally invited to join the alliance at the Bucharest summit. But none of them have been given a guarantee.