Stoltenberg Reaffirms Pledge That Ukraine Will Eventually Join NATO

The NATO chief says Ukraine's NATO membership is a 'long-term' goal

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg reaffirmed on Tuesday that the alliance wants to eventually admit Ukraine, a promise first made in 2008 that was a major motive in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to launch the war.

“NATO allies have agreed that Ukraine will become a member of our alliance, but at the same time that that is a long-term perspective,” Stoltenberg said in Helsinki alongside Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin.

“What is the issue now is to ensure that Ukraine prevails as a sovereign, independent nation, and therefore we need to support Ukraine,” the NATO chief added.

Zelensky has been repeatedly rebuffed when he’s asked for Ukraine to be admitted into the NATO alliance, but Western officials still maintain it will happen one day. During the lead-up to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Moscow sought security guarantees from the US and wanted a promise that Ukraine wouldn’t ever join NATO.

But the Biden administration refused to make the promise even though, according to reports at the time, the US was telling Ukraine privately it won’t be joining NATO within the next decade.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in March 2022 that he was told privately there would be no NATO membership for Ukraine, but publicly, the door would “remain open.”

President Biden said in June 2021 that Ukraine must “clean up corruption” before it joined NATO, concerns that have waned as the US has since shipped tens of billions in weapons and direct budgetary aid to the Ukrainian government.

CIA Director William Burns warned in a 2008 cable he wrote when he was the US ambassador to Russia that trying to bring Ukraine into NATO would be a major provocation toward Russia.

“Ukrainian entry into NATO is the brightest of all redlines for the Russian elite (not just Putin),” Burns wrote in the cable that was released by WikiLeaks. “I have yet to find anyone who views Ukraine in NATO as anything other than a direct challenge to Russian interests.”

While Ukraine isn’t expected to receive formal NATO membership in the near future, Ukrainian officials consider themselves a “de facto” member of the alliance since they have so much Western military equipment and support. NATO countries also have big plans for a post-war Ukraine to ensure the country keeps receiving weapons and builds up its military-industrial conference, plans that are likely unacceptable to Russia and could prolong the war.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.