Leaders of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on Tuesday failed to set a timetable for Ukraine's membership of the alliance, following the first day of the NATO summit in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius, reported Xinhua.
Speaking at a press conference, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said allies have agreed on a package of three elements to "bring Ukraine closer to NATO." However, he clarified that an invitation for Ukraine to join the alliance will be issued "when allies agree and conditions are met."
"It's unprecedented and absurd when a time frame is not set either for the invitation or for Ukraine's membership. While at the same time vague wording about 'conditions' is added even for inviting Ukraine," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky tweeted. He is set to attend the inaugural meeting of the new NATO-Ukraine Council on Wednesday.
NATO members have been divided on how to bring Ukraine closer to their bloc. While some Eastern European members are pressing for an explicit commitment on when Ukraine will join, the United States and Germany are reluctant to clarify, according to some reports.
Stoltenberg said NATO leaders have also approved the "most comprehensive defense plans since the end of the Cold War," and endorsed a new defense action plan.
Under the new plans, NATO aims to have 300,000 troops fully ready for action. NATO allies have also made an "enduring commitment" to invest at least 2 percent of their gross domestic product (GDP) annually in defense, although after "nine consecutive years of increased defense spending" since 2014, only 11 of the alliance's 31 members have reached or exceeded this target.