Western diplomats have urged Bosnian leaders to consider joining NATO, saying it could bring security and improve people's lives. But a Bosnian Serb leader said Serbs will not let Bosnia join until the alliance resolves its differences with Russia.

The ambassadors of the U.S., Britain and NATO issued a joint statement on Thursday saying that, "If you want positive change ... moving toward NATO is a great way to do it."

Ordinary Bosnians are torn over the issue, with Croats and Bosniaks generally in favor, but Serbs, who are traditionally pro-Russian, strongly opposed to joining the Western military alliance.

The ambassadors said NATO is important not just for the security it offers but also because of "rule-of-law reforms that will help to improve the lives of ordinary citizens."