Ukraine Pushing for Road Map to NATO Membership

NATO foreign ministers are expected to debate the issue this week

A Ukrainian official this week was pushing for a stronger commitment from NATO during the annual GLOBSEC forum in Bratislava, Slovakia. Olha Stefanishyna, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister for European integration, wants NATO to give Kyiv a road map toward membership at the upcoming summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, this July.

“Vilnius should give a clear signal that politically, Ukraine is invited to join NATO,” Stefanishyna told POLITICO on the sidelines of the conference. “We need a unified commitment of all member states.”

Ukraine was first promised it would eventually become a NATO member in 2008 despite warnings from the US ambassador to Russia at the time that Ukrainian entry into the alliance was the “brightest of all red lines” for Moscow. But Kyiv has never been given a timeline on when it can actually join the alliance.

There is an understanding among NATO members that Ukraine can’t join the alliance while it’s actively engaged in a war with Russia. At the Vilnius summit, the alliance is expected to announce new forms of support with a focus on making Ukraine’s military more interoperable with NATO, but such commitments aren’t good enough for Kyiv.

Stefanishyna said that being stuck “in the same place we are right now” with respect to NATO membership would be “totally unacceptable for Ukrainians.” Some European officials who also attended the GLOBSEC summit seem to agree.

“What we have to push in Vilnius is that there has to be a clear understanding [of] what are the next steps for Ukraine,” said Estonian Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur.

Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský told POLITICO that he has a “wish list” for the NATO summit, which includes Sweden joining the alliance and Ukraine being “invited.” But he acknowledged that the issue is a “complicated matter” as there are 31 NATO members that need to agree.

NATO foreign ministers are meeting in Oslo, Norway, on Wednesday and Thursday, where they’re expected to debate the issue of Ukraine’s future with the alliance. Whatever the NATO countries decide, any new support for Kyiv will likely prolong the war as one of Russia’s main motives for invading Ukraine was its alignment with NATO, and its primary demand during short-lived negotiations in the early days of the war was Ukrainian neutrality.

Author: Dave DeCamp

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