No promise that Ukraine will join NATO within ten years – Stoltenberg

Kiev must win in the conflict with Moscow in order to join, the bloc’s secretary-general has said

No one can guarantee that Ukraine will join NATO within the next decade, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has said, adding that Kiev’s membership depends on whether it wins in the conflict with Russia.

In an interview with CBS News on Sunday, Stoltenberg, who will leave his post in October, was asked to explain why he hopes that Ukraine will join the US-led military bloc by 2034, rather than within three years.

“Well, no one has said exactly 10 years but it’s obvious that it is a very serious issue to bring in Ukraine,” NATO’s top official noted, explaining that “Ukraine is now a country at war.”

He stressed that the most important thing for NATO now is “to step up our support to Ukraine to ensure that Ukraine prevails. That’s a precondition for any future membership for Ukraine.”

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In an interview with DPA news agency last week, Stoltenberg said that he hoped Kiev will become part of the bloc within a decade. His comments came as Natalya Galibarenko, Kiev’s ambassador to NATO, told Politico that Ukraine wanted to receive an “irreversible” offer of eventual membership at the bloc’s summit in Washington, which is slated to be held between July 9 and 11.

NATO members first agreed that Ukraine would join the bloc in 2008 but gave no specific timeline. After the Western-backed coup in Kiev in 2014, Ukraine fully committed to the goal of obtaining membership. In the fall of 2022, it formally applied to join NATO after four of its former regions voted overwhelmingly to become part of Russia.

NATO officials, however, have repeatedly said that Ukraine’s membership is out of the question while it is in conflict with Russia due to escalation concerns.

Moscow views NATO’s expansion towards its borders as an existential threat; Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that Ukraine’s intention to join the bloc was one of the key reasons for the conflict. Moscow has also said that Kiev’s neutrality is the key prerequisite for sustainable peace with its neighbor.

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