NATO To Pledge Future Membership to Ukraine, But No Timeline

The alliance will stop short of giving Kiev a promise that Ukraine will join NATO at the end of the war.

Washington expects Kiev will receive a stronger commitment from the North Atlantic alliance at an upcoming summit, an American official told reporters on Thursday. However, Ukraine will not be given a timeline on when it will receive membership in the alliance.

US Ambassador to NATO Julianne Smith described the likely agreement that will be signed by alliance leaders during a meeting set for July 11-12 in Vilnius, Lithuania. “Most of us feel confident that we are going to be able to come to an agreement that will reflect where we are and that the Ukrainians will believe and feel is something above and beyond restating Bucharest,” she explained.

In 2008, during a summit in Bucharest, NATO adopted a declaration stating that Ukraine and Georgia will one day join the alliance. The statement met a sharp rebuke from the Kremlin which views NATO expansion to those countries as critical threats to Russia’s national security. President Vladimir Putin named NATO’s deep military ties with Ukraine as one of the primary reasons he ordered the invasion last year.

For months, members of the North Atlantic alliance have debated Ukraine’s future within the bloc. Eastern European members, along with Kiev, seek to give Ukraine a concrete path to membership as well as a clear timeline for when it might be permitted to join. However, some Western European states, as well as Washington, do not agree and prefer to focus on the war with Russia.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has threatened to boycott the Vilnius summit if Kiev is not given a strong enough commitment. It is not clear if Kiev’s demands will be sufficiently satisfied by the proposal Smith believes will be adopted. The statement will likely give Ukraine conditions for membership, but not a timeline for when it can expect to actually join the bloc.

All members appear to be in agreement on making a significant pledge to arm Ukraine for years into the future during the summit. The prevailing vision is to develop a military relationship with Kiev resembling Washington’s ties with Tel Aviv, dubbed the "Israel model."

Kyle Anzalone is the opinion editor of, news editor of the Libertarian Institute, and co-host of Conflicts of Interest.