Nato divided over Ukraine's pathway to join military alliance

A diplomatic choice of words from Nato's general secretary suggests a split within the alliance on Ukraine's future membership, ITV News Europe editor James Mates reports

In a show of strength and unity, Nato staged its largest air exercise in history in the skies of Germany this week.

The military alliance remains vigilant of Russian aggression amid heightened tensions following Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine.

However, despite the show of unity, there's thought to be real division within Nato over how and when to allow Ukraine into the pact.

Washington and Berlin - usually the most conscious of preventing escalation - are reluctant to go beyond a vague pledge that Ukraine will one day join.

They are understood to be attempting to dampen the enthusiasm of Eastern European allies keen to give Ukraine a clear pathway as soon as the war ends.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg chose his words carefully when interviewed by ITV News. Credit: ITV News

When interviewed by ITV News during the 2023 Vilnius summit in Lithuania, Nato general secretary Jens Stoltenberg remained tight-lipped on division within the alliance.

“There are different options on the table but I don’t expect anyone to say that we should invite Ukraine at the summit," he said. “I’m very careful in going into detail and also outlining exactly what different allies think, because that would just make this process more difficult.

“We agree that Ukraine will become a member, we agree that it is for Ukraine and the 31 allies to decide when Ukraine should become a member.

“Russia doesn’t have any say, Russia doesn’t have a veto on Nato enlargement, and then perhaps most importantly, all allies agree that the most important thing now is to provide military support for Ukraine.”

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