U.S. Ambassador to NATO Julianne Smith said Tuesday that she does not expect the alliance to invite Ukraine to membership at its summit in Washington next July.

“As for this summer’s summit, I don’t expect the alliance to send out an invitation at this time,” Smith said in response to a question during a call with reporters ahead of a meeting of NATO defense ministers on Thursday.

As it fights the Russian invasion, Ukraine has made clear that its goal is to become a member of the US-led military alliance.

UKRAINE TO RECEIVE NATO SUPPORT ‘FOR AS LONG AS NECESSARY’ AND GAIN MEMBERSHIP IN THE ALLIANCE AFTER THE CONFLICT

nato building

NATO is not expected to invite Ukraine to this summer’s summit. (REUTERS/Yves Herman)

kyiv and some of its allies within NATO, particularly in Eastern Europe, have pushed for membership invitations, even as they accept that Ukraine could not join NATO while it is still at war.

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At a summit in Lithuania last year, NATO leaders said Ukraine’s future lay in the alliance, but stopped short of issuing an invitation or setting a timeline for its membership.

“We have worked very hard since the Vilnius summit last year to advance a series of steps to continue helping our friends in Ukraine with the necessary reforms within their own country to move closer to Euro-Atlantic integration,” Smith said.

“And we continue to focus first and foremost on supporting them in the current fight and ensuring they can prevail on the battlefield.”

By Sam