NATO’s primary priority is to help Ukraine in the war with Russia, and only after Ukraine’s victory will it be possible to talk about full membership, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stated following the ministerial meeting in Bucharest.
Answering a question on whether Ukraine has earned more than vague promises of membership sometime over the horizon, Stoltenberg said that
“the most immediate and urgent task is to ensure that Ukraine prevail as a sovereign, independent democratic nation in Europe. And to do so, we need to mobilize as much as we can, when it comes to military, economic, financial, and humanitarian support to Ukraine. And this is exactly what we do. If Ukraine does not prevail as an independent sovereign state, then of course, the membership issue is not on the table at all. Because then we have no candidate member anymore in Ukraine. So, whatever you think about when Ukraine can become a member, a precondition for that issue to be at the table at all is that Ukraine prevails, and we are helping Ukraine to do so as we speak.”
Stoltenberg also said that NATO Allies made it clear in the meeting that they are ready to support Ukraine with equipment, fuel, and ammunition. He also added that “there is a lot between nothing and full membership” and that NATO needs to develop a closer “political and practical partnership” with Ukraine, helping the country move from Soviet-era equipment standards to modern NATO-standard equipment doctrines, which will increase interoperability and ” help Ukraine move closer to membership.”
At this meeting, which was held in Bucharest 29-30 November, NATO countries made additional contributions to the Comprehensive Assistance Package for Ukraine to provide urgent assistance to restore the energy system. They also reaffirmed that the door to NATO membership is open to Ukraine but provided no concrete plan for this to happen.