NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg emphasized in an interview on May 15 that Ukraine's victory against Russia will be the starting point to move forward with NATO membership, the Guardian reported.
The "most urgent task" for NATO currently is "to ensure that Ukraine prevails," according to Stoltenberg.
"It is only if Ukraine prevails as a sovereign independent nation in Europe that there is any meaning in discussing when and how Ukraine can become a member of the (NATO military) alliance," Stoltenberg added, as quoted by the Guardian.
The upcoming NATO summit in Vilnius this July will likely include a multi-year program concerning how the military alliance can help Ukraine "transition from Soviet-era standards, doctrines, and equipment," which will also help in its accession process, according to Stoltenberg.
Zelensky is expected to attend the summit in person.
Stoltenberg and President Volodymyr Zelensky held a joint press conference in Kyiv on April 20, where Zelensky said there was "no objective barrier" to prevent Ukraine from joining the military alliance.
"I will speak clearly," Stoltenberg said at the briefing, "Ukraine's rightful place is in the Euro-Atlantic family, Ukraine's rightful place is in NATO."