NATO Secretary General said that the alliance’s door was open to new members, including Ukraine, during a briefing ahead of the meeting of foreign ministers in Bucharest on Tuesday.
“Russia does not have a veto,” he stated. “[President Putin] will get Finland and Sweden as NATO members. …. We stand by that, too, on membership for Ukraine.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he had formally submitted an application to join NATO in September.
While Stoltenberg didn’t rule out the bid at the time, media reports suggested that allowing the country to join the alliance while the conflict with Russia was ongoing would potentially mean that all 30 members becoming directly involved.
Prior to the Ukraine conflict, Moscow called for guarantees that Ukraine would never join the alliance, condemning continued NATO expansion eastwards towards Russia’s borders and accusing the US in particular of reneging on assurances made in the 1990s. NATO and the US rejected the demand.
Foreign ministers from across NATO are meeting in Bucharest to discuss future support for Ukraine. Kiev has received heavy weaponry and other support from Western allies since February.