Ukraine must “prevail as a sovereign, independent state” before it can formally join NATO, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Saturday, despite Kiev already considering itself a de-facto member of the Western bloc.
“NATO’s position on membership for Ukraine is unchanged,” Stoltenberg told a panel at the Munich Security Conference. “We agreed back in 2008 that Ukraine will become a member of the alliance and that is still our position.”
“Of course, what matters now is to ensure that Ukraine prevails as a sovereign, independent state. Because without having Ukraine as a sovereign and independent state, there is no way to discuss any kind of relationship between NATO and Ukraine in the future,” he continued, adding that this discussion would take place when the current conflict in Ukraine is resolved.
NATO has long insisted that all prospective members peacefully resolve outstanding international, territorial, or ethnic disputes before joining the alliance.