VILNIUS – NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg addressed members of the media today at the summit in Vilnius, delivering updates on Ukraine’s potential membership in the alliance. Stoltenberg announced that NATO has reaffirmed Ukraine’s future as a member of the organization, revealing a shift in the membership process from a two-step to a one-step pathway.
Stoltenberg emphasized that an invitation for Ukraine to join NATO would only be issued when allies reach a consensus and certain conditions are met. He also expressed his anticipation of Sweden’s upcoming membership in the alliance, highlighting NATO’s unified and optimistic message to Ukraine regarding its future within the organization.
Stoltenberg underscored the pressing need to ensure Ukraine’s success against the ongoing Russian invasion, describing it as the “most urgent task” at hand. He emphasized that without a favorable outcome in this regard, discussions about membership would not be possible. The NATO secretary-general expressed his appreciation for the support from NATO leaders and acknowledged “substantial new announcements” regarding military assistance from member states in recent days.
However, despite the updates provided, the lack of a clear timeline for Ukraine’s prospective ascension into NATO is expected to remain a source of frustration for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who has consistently called for a more definitive pathway to NATO membership. Addressing this concern, Stoltenberg clarified that a timeline has not been established as the process remains “conditions-based.”
When questioned about President Zelenskyy’s earlier remarks criticizing the absence of a timeframe, Stoltenberg emphasized that NATO’s message has never been stronger and pointed out that membership processes have historically been based on conditions rather than fixed timelines. He further explained that the alliance has agreed on a comprehensive package to bring Ukraine closer to NATO and that the language used reflects a firm political commitment to eventual membership.