Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy blasted NATO Tuesday for not admitting the country into the alliance — a move his allies said may come when 'conditions are met.'
"We reaffirmed that Ukraine will become a member of NATO and agreed to remove the requirement for a membership action plan," NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters at the NATO Summit.
"This will change Ukraine's membership path from a two-step path to a one-step path," he said.
As of writing, member states have no consensus for the former Soviet satellite state to join its ranks, despite a continued pledge to arm it against Russian aggression to the east and south.
"It's unprecedented and absurd when a time frame is set neither for the invitation nor for Ukraine's membership," said Zelenskyy. "It seems there is no readiness to invite Ukraine to NATO."
At a separate press conference, Zelenskyy met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, urging continued support from Canada.
On Wednesday, Trudeau announced $541 million in new funding and projects "to provide long-term, multiyear commitments" to Ukraine's security. Canada has given Ukraine nearly $9 billion in aid since the beginning of 2022.
He also announced the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) would welcome almost 40,000 Ukrainian military and security personnel for intensive combat training in Latvia.
The decision comes on the heels of deploying 2,200 troops over the next three years as part of a pledge to bolster military spending by $2.6 billion in the region.
"For over 500 days now, Ukraine has withstood Russian brutalities. Russian President Vladimir Putin made a grave miscalculation. He underestimated Ukrainians' courage and the strength of the West's solidarity and resolve," Trudeau told reporters.
If granted membership in NATO, the war-torn country would secure protection against Russia, who annexed the Crimean Peninsula in 2015 and, more recently, large swathes of Donetsk and Luhansk to the east and south.
However, Germany and the U.S. fear Ukrainian membership would provoke Russia further rather than deter aggression.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that NATO's expansion is "one of the reasons that led to the current situation."
"It looks like the Europeans don't understand their mistake," he said, issuing a grave warning of the consequences of fast-tracking Ukrainian membership in NATO.
"Potentially, it's very dangerous for European security. It carries very big risks," said Peskov.
Regarding Zelenskyy's concerns, Stoltenberg said winning the war is a top priority because "unless Ukraine prevails, there is no membership to be discussed at all."
Responding to further questions on what conditions are prerequisite for Ukraine joining, he said: "We want modern defence and security institutions."
The alliance launched several multiyear programs to modernize Ukraine's Soviet-era military equipment and doctrines to set the stage for possible admittance into NATO.
They also created a NATO-Ukraine Council to bolster cooperation during times of crisis, which met for the first time on Wednesday.
"The Ukrainian delegation is bringing home a significant security victory for Ukraine, our country, our people, our children," opined Zelenskyy on Wednesday.
Should talks proceed further, Ukraine would not have to submit to the typical vetting process as required for prospective member states.
Finland and Sweden became the 31st and 32nd members of NATO at the summit this week. The Nordic countries aligned with the collective security alliance after Russian aggression intensified in Ukraine last year.
Reporters asked Trudeau in April whether he would commit to reaching the 2% GDP mark by the decade's end. He did not commit to a timeline.
A leaked Pentagon assessment revealed he would not meet those spending targets, as Canada spends an estimated 1.29% of its economic output on defence.
Stoltenberg said many countries view the benchmark "as the floor, not the ceiling." At the NATO Summit, allied leaders maintained that position.
The document acknowledged that Canada suffered from "widespread" military deficiencies that harmed relations with allies for the past 26 years.