NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Wednesday that the Western military alliance’s members are divided on what to do regarding Ukraine’s bid to join.
“On that issue there are different views in the alliance and of course the only way to make decisions in NATO is by consensus,” Stoltenberg told a conference in Brussels.
Ukraine, backed by NATO members in eastern Europe, wants a “clear message” from alliance leaders at a July meeting in Lithuania’s capital Vilnius that it will join when Russia’s war ends.
Kyiv admits it will not join while violence rages on its soil. However, it wants the alliance to go beyond a vague 2008 vow that it will join NATO one day.
“No one is able to tell you exactly what will be the final decision at the Vilnius summit on this issue,” Stoltenberg said.
According to NATO diplomats, the alliance’s leading military power, the United States, is hesitant to move beyond the pledge of membership given to Ukraine 15 years ago.
By joining NATO, Ukraine would be subject to the alliance’s Article 5 collective defense clause, which requires all allies to assist in defending the country if it is attacked.
Ukraine’s Western allies are considering if alternative sorts of security assurances may be provided to Ukraine as an intermediate measure before it joins NATO.
France said on Tuesday that it is eager to achieve an agreement with Ukraine on “security guarantees that will help it defend itself in the long run.”
Stoltenberg stated that he expected NATO leaders to agree on a multi-year initiative to assist Ukraine’s military in transitioning to Western gear at the summit.
As its international sponsors have funneled increasingly advanced weaponry to Kyiv, Russia’s assault has already prompted Ukraine to shift to NATO-standard weaponry.