The door remains open for Ukraine to join NATO, but the head of the military alliance has urged Kiev to focus on reform.
Anders Fogh Rasmussen made his remarks ahead of a two-day meeting of NATO defence ministers from its 28 members.
“That’s for the Ukrainians to decide. Actually, I don’t think it’s the most urgent priority for the new Ukrainian leadership. We all remember what we decided at the NATO Summit in Bucharest in 2008.
“We decided that Ukraine will become a member of NATO, of course, provided the country so wishes and provided the country fulfills the necessary criteria,” said Fogh Rasmussen.
So it’s for Ukraine to decide. But I think there are more urgent priorities to address right now. We stand ready to continue our engagement with Ukraine.”
The summit takes amid reports of Russian military drills in western Russia.
That and other key issues facing Ukraine will be discussed before the end of talks on Thursday.
On Wednesday, NATO ministers issued a statement saying the army should not intervene in the country’s political crisis and should remain neutral.