NATO Chief Warns Ukraine of Long Road to Membership

KIEV, Ukraine -- The head of Nato has pledged his support for Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko’s quest to join the 26-nation alliance, but has warned that Kiev faces a “long and winding road” before it can finally become a member.

“Ukraine has clearly indicated that it wants to go along the long and winding road to membership,” Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, Nato secretary-general, said in an interview with The Financial Times.

Nato Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer (c)

“Given the fact that there has been a peaceful revolution, the membership standards can be much more easily fulfilled by the Yushchenko government than by the Kuchma government.” But de Hoop Scheffer refused to set any timescale for Ukraine’s membership ambitions, which are strongly backed by the U.S.

At a foreign ministers meeting in Vilnius, Lithuania, this week, Nato is set to offer Ukraine a package of assistance measures, but stop short of issuing a “road map” towards membership.