Ukraine will become a member of NATO one day, the alliance has pledged at a two-day meeting in Romania. The group also promised more help to Ukraine to help it fight off Russian forces, including winter aid and artillery.
The pledges come as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with NATO foreign ministers in Romania's capital, Bucharest, to drum up urgently needed support to counter Moscow's bombardment of Ukraine's vital energy infrastructure.
“NATO’s door is open,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said.
“Russia does not have a veto” on countries joining he insisted, pointing to the recent entry of North Macedonia and Montenegro into the security alliance, saying Russian President Vladimir Putin “will get Finland and Sweden as NATO members” soon. The Nordic neighbours applied for membership in April, concerned that Russia might target them next.
“We stand by that, too, on membership for Ukraine,” he added.
NATO also wants to see how it can help Ukraine in the longer term, by upgrading its equipment to the alliance's modern standards and providing more military training.
This will help Ukraine to join NATO more quickly in the years after the war has ended.
Blinken is also expected to announce substantial aid for Ukraine’s energy grid. Ukraine’s network has been battered countrywide since early October by targeted Russian strikes, in what US officials call Moscow's campaign to weaponize winter.
Estonia’s foreign minister, Urmas Reinsalu, went a step further than most, calling on his NATO partners to pledge 1% of their GDP to Ukraine in military support, saying it would make “a strategic difference.”
However, most NATO allies are struggling to spend 2% of their GDP on their defence budgets.